An absorbing and layered study of “one of the most influential voices in Western popular culture.”

A biography of the singer/songwriter who helped define the cultural landscape of the 1960s as half of the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel and who later achieved massive success as a solo artist.

At an impromptu school assembly in 1952, Paul Simon (b. 1941) first heard his classmate Art Garfunkel sing, though they didn’t know each other at the time. The experience made an impression on the young Simon, who saw in Garfunkel his nascent desire to become a singer and star. As freelance journalist and veteran music writer Carlin (Bruce, 2012, etc.) observes in his nuanced, fascinating portrait, Simon’s friendship with Garfunkel would be the defining relationship of his life, both professionally and personally. Their brotherly and often contentious friendship would see them rise during the 1960s from humble wannabes with second lives in law school and a graduate program in mathematics to pop superstars. Growing up in a musical household—his father, Louis, was a professional bass player—Simon’s musical interests were encouraged, and he received early lessons in the business, which would influence his shrewd approach to making deals. As Carlin notes, however, Louis would become resentful of his son’s success and would harangue him to give up his career to become a teacher despite being a world-renowned pop star. This feeling of inferiority would fuel Simon’s lifelong identity crisis, as he adopted many pseudonyms throughout his career, notably Jerry Landis, and constantly struggled with fame and his own abilities. Carlin expertly tracks Simon’s professional career, from the earliest days with Garfunkel when they were finding their footing as performers, through the climax of their career as a band with their 1970 album “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” to Simon’s solo artistic peak with the 1986 release of “Graceland.” Simon’s music career defies easy categorization—much as his relationship with Garfunkel does—but in Carlin’s portrayal, his legacy as an innovative songwriter and musician is undeniable.

An absorbing and layered study of “one of the most influential voices in Western popular culture.”

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-034-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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