Foolproof material, illustrated with snapshots proving Elijah’s cuteness.

A rock-’n’-roll writer becomes a father and finds it wonderful.

Pollack (Never Mind the Pollacks, 2003, etc.) was a hip single guy working the rock scene. Then he found fetching, quirky Regina from Nashville. She was the woman he was looking for, “a smart, confident, talented, patient, bossy, good-looking Southern nerd.” So he married her. Soon, with the combined application of scientific method and the tried-and-true old-fashioned way, they made a baby. The proud daddy describes, perhaps in more detail than necessary, the birth of Elijah (9 lb, 10 oz), the best child ever. We learn of doulas and birthing techniques, obstetricians, grandparents, baby showers and, of course, the yeas and nays of circumcision (“Peeniegate”). There are narratives about schooling choices, butt rashes, applesauce, Elijah’s attempts at walking and talking and his penchant for blood-drawing biting. The little nuclear family moves from Chicago to Philly to Austin (where there are neighborhood problems) and, as of last report, to L.A. Pollack’s journal includes an excursus now and again regarding such matters as road trips with a band, his wife’s anatomy and the salubrious effects of getting stoned on good grass. Elijah is now four, Dad is 36 and they are both growing up nicely. God job, Neal! Someday, Elijah will especially enjoy this history, and meanwhile, we can look forward to his Bar Mitzvah.

Foolproof material, illustrated with snapshots proving Elijah’s cuteness.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2007

ISBN: 0-375-42362-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006


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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