Still, this compensates for its frail artistry with hustle, intelligence, and passion for the game.

The author of overlong novels (Beach Music, 1995, etc.) returns with an overlong memoir of his last season (1966–67) as an overachieving point guard for the Citadel’s mediocre basketball team (8–17).

Conroy can be entertaining and endearingly self-effacing. In this autobiography of a roundballer, he reminds us from the first sentence to the last that he was among the least talented players on his or any other team. Still, he was all-state in high school and won the Citadel’s MVP award with his (self-described) hustle, intelligence, and passion for the game. Here he gives us dribble-by-dribble accounts of some significant basketball moments from elementary school through his final college game, and he interviews his former coach and teammates, several of whom came to see him when he was on tour promoting Beach Music. Some of their stories are affecting, none more so than that of Al Kroboth, a POW during the Vietnam War. Looming large are coach Mel Thompson, whose bullying tactics, Conroy alleges, ruined the careers of some of the players, and—no surprise—the author’s late father, a softened version of whom was the Marine meanie in The Great Santini. Don Conroy appears here as the quintessential crude abuser who slugs and slaps his son in the face, demeans his talents, calls him a “pussy,” but somehow experiences an epiphany after reading Santini and becomes a Nice Guy (“the great miracle of my adult life,” avows his son) whose bruised children grieve at his passing. Conroy is not an especially gifted writer, nor always even a careful one. He tells us that his college English professor taught him to avoid dangling participles and verb-subject agreement errors, but he makes both mistakes here and for good measure throws in a pronoun-case error and a lockerful of sports clichés, mixed metaphors, and sexist language (all women are “pretty” or not).

Still, this compensates for its frail artistry with hustle, intelligence, and passion for the game.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-48912-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002


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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