Next book



A warm, emotionally intimate memoir.

An award-winning poet’s memoir of growing up in Miami as the gay son of Cuban immigrants.

Revolution changed Cuba forever. Yet Blanco’s (For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey, 2013, etc.) family seemed determined to hang on to whatever they could of the lives they knew before Fidel Castro’s takeover. Once the family settled in Miami, his parents went to work at an uncle’s bodega and ate only Cuban food. Meanwhile, Blanco dreamed of becoming like his gringo school friends who ate “Pop-Tarts, Ritz Crackers and Cool Whip.” He tried to introduce his family to American customs like Thanksgiving, only to see those traditions transformed into something with a distinctly Cuban twist. At the same time, Blanco was still fascinated by the country his family had left behind. Not only did they re-create it through the food they sold and ate, but also through the garden that his grandfather planted with the loquat, papaya and avocado trees that reminded them of their “lost [Cuban] paradise.” Born in Madrid just before his family left Spain for the United States, the author soon realized that he existed in a world that was neither completely Cuban nor American: He was “a little from everywhere.” The homosexual desires that surfaced during adolescence and which he kept hidden from his family only added to his feelings of separateness. As a cure for his love of “unmanly” things like his paint-by-number sets and his cousin’s Easy-Bake Oven, Blanco’s homophobic grandmother sent him to work at the bodega. In this space of working-class machismo, Blanco came into contact with a closeted Cuban homosexual who told him about the forbidden affair he had with another man before fleeing to the U.S. Their friendship started the author on the journey toward accepting not only his own gayness, but also the “ghosts of Cuba” that haunted him.

A warm, emotionally intimate memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0062313768

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Next book


A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Next book



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

Close Quickview