A poignantly intimate, revelatory read for Prince fans and music lovers.

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THE BEAUTIFUL ONES

A legendary musician and the co-author he chose three months before his death sketch a tantalizing half-finished self-portrait in both words and images.

When Prince died in 2016, he left behind 30 pages of a memoir that his co-writer, Paris Review advisory editor Piepenbring (co-author: Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, 2019), had annotated with the singer’s own expansions and that Prince had intended as a “handbook for the brilliant community: wrapped in autobiography, wrapped in biography.” Remaining scrupulously faithful to that vision, Piepenbring pieces together Prince’s memoir fragments with never-before-seen memorabilia the editor helped excavate from the singer’s Paisley Park vault in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The book opens with Piepenbring’s warm remembrances of their brief association and statement of mission. Though unfinished, the memoir, which is divided into four parts, was to have set forth what Prince called an “an unconventional and poetic journey” that celebrated the creative freedom he prized above all else. Prince remembers the glamorous parents who raised him and whose interpersonal conflicts later fueled much of his creative output. He also reminisces about his hometown, Minneapolis, his worship of his musician father, and his first loves, music being chief among them. The second section, “For You,” consists of photographed images—at once funny and supremely personal—of a scrapbook Prince kept in the years preceding his first album, For You (1978). In “Controversy,” Piepenbring traces the creative work that followed For You and preceded Purple Rain (1984) with images of both the singer and lyrics—complete with Prince’s doodles and corrections—to such classics such as “1999.” The final section, “Baby I’m a Star,” features both handwritten treatments for Prince’s semiautobiographical film, Purple Rain, and Piepenbring’s typewritten version. Laced throughout with quotations from Prince interviews, this visually stunning labor of love reveals the shy, vulnerable man behind the glitz and controversy without ever “punctur[ing] the veil of mystery around him.”

A poignantly intimate, revelatory read for Prince fans and music lovers.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-58965-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2019

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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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