Despite some gratuitous name-dropping, a warm account full of laughs and love.

Actor Tucker’s follow-up memoir to Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy (2007).

Best known for his role on L.A. Law, Tucker takes enormous pleasure in food, wine and friends, especially when all are to be found in Italy, where he and his wife, actress Jill Eikenberry, have a house in Umbria. The gregarious author enthusiastically writes about his enjoyment of all things Italian, especially mouthwatering meals. But when Jill’s mother, Lora, was widowed, a darker world began to intrude on their sunny semi-retirement. When Lora’s subsequent decline into dementia made independent living in Santa Barbara, Calif., impossible for her, they moved the elderly widow to a senior residence near the Manhattan apartment where the couple lived during part of the year. That arrangement proved unsatisfactory as well, and eventually she moved into an apartment across the hall from them. Tucker makes clear his misgivings about this proximity, and he ably captures his wife’s complicated feelings of guilt, responsibility and love. When his daughter Alison, an accomplished caterer, moved to Manhattan and took an apartment nearby and their son Max, a musician, moved in with her, Tucker realized that their new arrangement resembled the close, multigenerational family life so common in Italian society. The benefits were huge, with everyone supporting each other, and Alison brought the added bonus of terrific food. Tucker and his wife were able to move ahead with a film they had been producing and appear in an off-off-Broadway musical. The author—whose sturdy ego is evident, as are his concerns about his privacy—presents himself more as a sympathetic observer than as a deeply involved participant in the mother-in-law project.

Despite some gratuitous name-dropping, a warm account full of laughs and love.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8021-1921-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009


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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