DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU

A SAFARI GUIDE’S ENCOUNTERS WITH RAVENOUS LIONS, STAMPEDING ELEPHANTS, AND LOVESICK RHINOS

In some of the world’s most remote and fascinating locations, Allison sticks resolutely to the most conventional narrative...

Safari guide Allison (Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide, 2007) recalls his experiences with deadly animals.

In ragged chronological fashion, the author takes us on a ten-year journey, from his period of guide training, to his unsatisfying experiences as a trainer of other guides, to his four-year Australian hiatus and, finally, his happy return to Africa. The chapters—mainly stand-alone accounts of his experiences—follow a general pattern: I didn’t realize what I was doing; I got in trouble; I escaped with my life! Often the segments begin with a bit of dialogue and feature varying measures of self-deprecation (frequently about his feckless driving), wildlife lore, some exciting bit of danger—often, conveniently, beyond the view of any witnesses other than himself and the beast—and even the occasional insensitive analogy: He makes facetious allusions to both Helen Keller and the fire-bombing of Dresden. Along the way are obligatory I-could’ve-died moments—often late at night, his only weapon a flashlight with dying batteries—with lions, leopards and a particularly annoyed elephant that punished Allison for trying to snatch a souvenir hair or two from its tail. There are moments of regret, too, generally involving the death of an animal. On one occasion the author informed the local authorities about a buffalo threatening the camp; two shooters arrived to deal with it and enacted what the author calls “an incomprehensively brutal slaughter.”

In some of the world’s most remote and fascinating locations, Allison sticks resolutely to the most conventional narrative road.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59921-469-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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