Must-read for those who love that era and want a fresh perspective on it.

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PUNK AVENUE

INSIDE THE NEW YORK CITY UNDERGROUND, 1972-1982

A musician’s memoir of punk rock in its New York City heyday shows how much fun it was while it lasted, before AIDS and heroin had the last laugh.

As frontman for the Senders, Marcade never saw his band achieve the notoriety of the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, or others that played CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City, but his memoir has an antic vitality and humor that seem to encapsulate the spirit of those times. Everything seemed so funny—even nodding out from heroin, throwing up from overindulgence, and getting tossed into jail, where the teenage Marcade begins this account after getting busted for dope. A French native, he had come to America for adventure. He found his share and also found himself in the middle of the punk scene that was soon to emerge on the Lower East Side. Everyone seemed to know him and like him—former New York Doll Johnny Thunders brought him from Boston to New York and provided entree. The Clash appreciated him so much that they invited the Senders to open for them at their peak. Marcade was the one who, by his account, told Nancy Spungen to follow her heart to London, where she began her fatal romance with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious. (“You need love, not heroin,” he remembers telling her.) There are a number of hilarious, outrageous scenes involving pets—not just dogs and cats, but monkeys—or parties, and some featuring both, and there is plenty of insider observation: “The Ramones got along great with everybody, which was funny because they couldn’t stand each other.” And there are way too many exclamation points. Ultimately, AIDS cost many their lives and others their sexual freedom. Heroin also took many of Marcade’s friends, his marriage, and his band. Written 35 years after he kicked his addiction for good, the book retains the madcap spirit of that time and place, suggesting how punk happened and why it had to end.

Must-read for those who love that era and want a fresh perspective on it.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941110-49-2

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Three Rooms Press

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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