A memoir that reveals more about the author than her subject, while challenging the truism that if you can remember the...

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OWSLEY AND ME

MY LSD FAMILY

In this bio about the man responsible for the highest-quality LSD, the subject keeps his distance from both the reader and the author.

As the acid king and the sonic mastermind behind the Grateful Dead’s live sound, Owsley “Bear” Stanley (1935–2011) was a major figure in San Francisco hippiedom, worthy of his own biography, though often relegated to supporting-player status in accounts of the era. This memoir can’t quite serve as a corrective, since the author wasn’t the partner to the man known to all as Bear as she would have liked to be. She took his last name after the two had split, when she left the psychedelic life for dental school and wanted to have the same name as her son that he had fathered. And they were never really together when they were together, because he had another girlfriend who had been around longer and took priority. When the author asked that other woman for help with the book, she replied, “Oh, God, no. I don’t want to recall the little that I think I can remember.” Memory is a key issue in this book, written with the late Tom Davis, for the author leaves little doubt that she was usually tripping, while often simultaneously having sex or dancing the night away, leaving readers to wonder how she could possibly take the notes for direct quotations that can run for a paragraph. Bear, we learn, looked “like a hippie Dracula” and “saw his role as a psychedelic Prometheus.” He abhorred alcohol but ate red meat and enjoyed indiscriminate sex (though he could be jealous when his partners behaved similarly). The author, who worked for both Bear and the Dead, learned that “free sex was fraught with danger.”

A memoir that reveals more about the author than her subject, while challenging the truism that if you can remember the ’60s, you weren’t there.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9833589-3-0

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Monkfish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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