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Time Pieces


Overall, a satisfying collection of vignettes about family and career suitable not only for fans of the author’s previous...

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A random assortment of over 100 short texts that reflect on a life well-lived.

Lubow (Wild Notes, 2015, etc.) presents vignettes in haphazard fashion without attempting to organize them thematically or chronologically. Spanning several decades, many take place in the Chicago area and focus on his family life or his career in the field of advertising. Some of the more endearing moments involve his wife, Donna. In one of his longer pieces, “The second call,” Lubow demonstrates how the trait of persistence served him well, not only when first meeting Donna at college, but also as part of his eventual profession. The inclusion of “footnotes” following many pieces allows the author to reflect on events with the benefit of hindsight or to provide updates, perhaps most effectively in “Four refusals and a footnote,” where he recounts creative differences with the talent in the field and then unexpected resolutions. “Summertime,” easily one of the most touching sketches, imagines an encounter between the author, Donna, and their now-deceased parents, where all appear to be in the primes of their lives. Generally, Lubow is at his best when he allows himself room for vivid sensory descriptions, as in “Halloween, 1949,” which conveys the palpable excitement for all ages surrounding that particular celebration. Again, a footnote adds value; the author modestly explains that even though the physical elements of a story may have faded, “they’re here in rambling words that compel themselves to get written down and are not much, but better than nothing.” As is often the case with this type of format, not all pieces carry the same weight. For instance, the flattening of a squirrel evokes 11 different glimpses of accidents or near misses involving vehicles, humans, and animals. The final piece in this largely entertaining volume occurs in a London eatery in the early 1980s. Dining with his wife and two sons, Lubow feels a sharp sense of pride and then mentions that the bistro in question is no longer open. Tellingly, he writes: “But the past never closes.”

Overall, a satisfying collection of vignettes about family and career suitable not only for fans of the author’s previous works, but also for new readers.

Pub Date: June 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5304-1652-3

Page Count: 132

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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