A lyrically visceral memoir of love and loss.

An award-winning nonfiction writer explores the personal roots of a powerful and destructive love/hate relationship she shared with a married lesbian.

As a child, Febos (Creative Writing/Monmouth Univ.; Whip Smart, 2010) suffered from separation anxiety and nightmares, and she sleepwalked whenever her sea-captain father was away. When she was awake, she routinely “counted all the dangers my father might meet” and feared that she might be found unlovable enough that he would never return. Febos took solace in erotically charged stories that, as in the 1986 film Labyrinth, merged fantasy and horror. But in her teenage and young-adult years, her escapist tendencies took the forms of sexual obsessions with men and women and a drug addiction. When Febos met Amaia, a beautiful married lesbian who lived on the other side of the country, the attraction was immediate and intense. Amaia wooed her with expensive gifts that reminded her of the gifts her father would bring back to her. She writes, “each object was a promise, something I could hold when I could barely remember her face.” Caught in a web of obligation and desire that was as pleasurable as it was disturbing, Febos began a cross-country relationship that, in its secrecy and impossibility, was profoundly erotic. Her lover made Febos feel worshipped; Febos, in turn, found herself idolizing her lover. Yet at the same time, the author also experienced a primal fear of abandonment that came from Amaia’s physical, and at times emotional, unavailability. Her understanding of the relationship was heightened by her own coming to terms with the part–Native American, substance-abusing biological father she never knew growing up. With Amaia, she experienced both the paternal genetic legacy of addiction as well as the traumatic “legacy of abandonment, of erasure” that was her birthright as a Native American. Erotic and dark, the book is a courageous exploration of love as the ultimate form of plenitude and annihilation.

A lyrically visceral memoir of love and loss.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63286-657-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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