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A light and engaging visit to an Italian mountain valley town. Often it is necessary to go away to see what one has left behind. Tullio was born in the town of Gallinaro, in a mountain valley somewhere (as the title suggests) between Rome and Naples. After an education in England, he married an Irish artist, Susan Morley (whose wonderful line drawings illustrate the book), and settled in Ireland. Like many transplanted Italians, Tullio returns to his birthplace every summer. And, like those who return, he sees things in a different perspective. Where the natives are apathetic and resigned to things such as pollution, political corruption, and petty (and not so petty) crime, Tullio, with a good British sense of right and wrong, is outraged. But to no avail; as he himself recognizes, the Italians are a very conservative lot and it takes quite a bit to stir them to revolution. The town and the valley serve as a prism for the rest of Italy (“it is tempting to assume that all of Italy works in much the same fashion as the valley does”), while the myriad daily activities are delightfully recounted; from buying bread and roasting a pig, to picnics and religious feasts, to a quest to find the perfect swimming hole. There are insightful passages on the character of Naples, the politics of judging a local wine competition, microhistory, cafÇ life, religion, sex, fashion, and even directions on how to prepare sausages, liqueurs, sauces, and polenta. The book is slightly dated (most of the events seem to have taken place in the early- to mid-1990s), and the occasional Anglicism might throw some readers off (although others will find them charming). The cast of characters has been seen before, which gives the reader a sense of returning to old friends. A winsome visit to a part of Italy “off the beaten path.”

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-19307-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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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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