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

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MY LOSING SEASON

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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