An enjoyable memoir for wheat-free foodies and others limited in their gastronomical choices.

Faced at age 36 with the sudden onset of celiac disease, a professor realizes that his days of brewing beer and eating his wife’s homemade bread are over.

In his first book, Graham (English/St. Lawrence Univ.) takes a mostly humorous approach to his adventures in adjusting to life without wheat, oats, and barley. At first, he and his wife, who gave up all gluten in solidarity with him, sampled some beers that tasted “of vegetal funk, like old lettuce” and baked some truly inedible loaves that “fell apart in chunks, like pieces of a dried-out plaster wall.” Eventually, with the help of the ever scientific America’s Test Kitchen, Graham found a few recipes for what almost tasted like bread. Brewing beer proved to be far more difficult, but he has made do with brews like Omission Pale Ale and Glutenberg. The book detours briefly into Graham’s health crisis, the history of wheat, and the mystery surrounding what appears to be a rapid increase in the number of cases of celiac disease. For the most part, however, the author stays focused on his experience, whether he’s mourning the loss of the luxury of turning a chef loose to make a meal for him, bemoaning the tastelessness of most of the gluten-free offerings at the supermarket, indulging in “gluten-voyeurism” by watching the Food Channel’s Guy Fieri pig out on diner fare, or realizing how much he hates millet (“dry, gritty, and less flavorful than any other grain I had ever tasted”). Graham’s awareness that, since his health improved radically once he changed his diet, he was left suffering what should probably be considered a “first-world problem” goes a long way toward increasing reader sympathy, and his mouthwatering evocations of homemade tortillas and buckwheat crepes make it clear that he still finds plenty to enjoy in and out of the kitchen.

An enjoyable memoir for wheat-free foodies and others limited in their gastronomical choices.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8041-8687-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016


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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