A memoir that captures the opportunity that lies in loss.

Between Fires


A woman’s triumphant tale of her struggle to rebuild herself after a disaster.

“They say that men fall in love through their eyes and women through their ears and there’s probably some truth in that,” reflects Zdenek (The Right Brain Experience, 1995, etc.) in this powerful memoir. The Santa Ana winds of 1961 blew fiercely and mercilessly through the author’s neighborhood in California, bringing smoky gusts of flame and winds. She managed to escape with her two small daughters, Gina and Tamara, as her home burned to the ground, destroying everything inside. Marilee couldn’t reach her husband, Leonard, and the day passed in agony until he showed up at the motel where she and the kids were staying. Her relief at having him back intermingled with her devastation at the loss of their home, despite Leonard’s gentle reminder that “It’s just things that burned.” Surrounded by her loved ones, the author hoped that the worst was behind her—but less than three weeks later, she awoke to the terrifying sound of Leonard gasping for breath. He died hours later, and at 27 years old, the author was a widow with two small children. Her love for Leonard, an older man who’d been married before, was one that she never believed she’d have again. But not long after his death, she met Al, a kind, caring man whose affection healed her wounds. They were married for 45 years before he died, once again leaving her brokenhearted, but she concluded once more that “We cry, we grieve, we move on.” Zdenek’s perspective on her life is uplifting and inspiring, despite the often tragic content of her story. Her exceptional prose will draw readers in as they wait to see how she will survive her many tribulations. The people in Zdenek’s life emerge as flawed but endearing characters, and the love she feels for them is apparent and moving; for example, regarding her grandmother, she writes, “When I’m in my eighties and nineties, I hope I can live as creative and constructive a life as those I’ve written about here.” Her memoir captures love, loss, and renewal in a way that will touch anyone who has been through those challenges.

A memoir that captures the opportunity that lies in loss.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-22809-8

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Curious Mind Media, a division of Right-Brain Resources

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2015

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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