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Hilarious, relatable, cringeworthy, and effortlessly entertaining, particularly for new parents or those in contemplation.

Self-deprecating reflections on the peaks and valleys of modern fatherhood.

Comedian Birbiglia and his wife, Stein, parlay their individual creative talents into a funny and wise memoir on parenting. Fusing good humor and raw honesty with selections from Stein’s evocative poetry, Birbiglia narrates his journey into parenting using material previously adapted for the Broadway stage. From the outset, the author admits to having “a low tolerance for children because I’ve lost a lot of great friends to kids.” He was up front about that fact since he and wife Stein got married in 2008, but when she casually mentioned that having children would “be different” for them, Birbiglia knew he was in store for some major changes. Though he outlines seven reasons for his reluctance about becoming a father—e.g., overpopulation, cancer history, a lack of great people in the world (“The men we used to think were great were priests, politicians, and gymnastics doctors. It hasn’t ended well for great”)—Birbiglia eventually warmed to the idea. The couple birthed their daughter, Oona, despite the author’s varicocele condition, demanding touring schedules, and Stein’s brutally difficult pregnancy. The author ably narrates these hurdles with the serious concern of a devoted husband and the comic timing of a seasoned entertainer. Throughout the book, Stein seamlessly interweaves her artistic verses, tempering all the facetiousness beautifully. Never clinical or overly extreme, Birbiglia’s lighthearted, refreshingly droll approach to starting a family will appeal most to readers who can identify with both his reluctance to couple up and his acceptance and embracement of parenting. There are also shared moments of introspection and maturity, not to mention useful wisdom. As Oona moved into toddlerhood, Birbiglia began to accept himself as the “decent dad” he never thought he could become.

Hilarious, relatable, cringeworthy, and effortlessly entertaining, particularly for new parents or those in contemplation.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-0151-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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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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