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TANGO LESSONS

A MEMOIR

A vibrantly intelligent reading pleasure.

An essayist’s debut memoir of how a passion for tango dancing transformed her life.

Flaherty took her first tango lessons when she was 16 and studying abroad in Argentina. Ten years later, she was living in New York, unhappily surveying the dismal prospects in both her love life and professional pursuits as an actress. Desperate “to do something, however bold or blind,” and longing for human touch, she plunged back into the world of tango. A traumatic childhood that included living with a substance-abusing, man-hungry mother marked the author at her deepest levels. The more she engaged with tango, the more she realized that at the core of her desire to master the dance was a wish to simply “close my eyes and trust.” Her first lessons felt like a liberating “insurrection.” But later encounters with “the maestro,” an older man who sought to school her in tango and a passion she did not want, tested her resolve. Flaherty persisted, and as she improved, she found other teachers who showed her that tango dancing was a dialogue of “betrayals and…broken loves” between two bodies as well as a pathway to a womanhood she had suppressed and ignored. She eventually found her way into the New York underground of tango venues, where she met Enzo, the lover who moved her into greater awareness of a body she had allowed to be led but had not allowed to lead. A fellow “tango nerd”–turned-friend named Marty helped the author evolve. With him, she learned to dance a tango that was a sensual expression of an autonomous woman unafraid to take risks in life and love. Well-researched, eloquent, and entertaining, Flaherty’s book is not only a witty, incisive reflection on a beloved dance and its history. It is also an intimate celebration of dance, life, and the art of taking chances.

A vibrantly intelligent reading pleasure.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-98070-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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