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Dripping with tasty anecdotes, literary tales, and great food, this joyful book is delightful.

Have skillet, will travel; or, one writer’s “pilgrimage of gratitude and generosity.”

In his latest, fiction and nature writer Bass (For a Little While: New and Selected Stories, 2016, etc.) pens an entertaining and love-infused gastronomical memoir. In his mid-50s and recovering from an agonizing divorce, the author decided there was no better time to give payback to the authors who had mentored him over the years and to recharge his writing battery. He wanted to see them in person and cook them a luscious meal—including wild game from his Montana freezer—as a way to say thanks. Joining him along the way were students he was mentoring. The on-and-off, three-year journey began on Long Island, where he visited “one of my greatest literary heroes, Peter Matthiessen,” who was struggling with leukemia. “Readers can enter his work from any direction and become lost, in the best way, changed forever,” writes Bass, who admires his “life of artistic as well as political integrity.” He also visited the “good witch of Manhattan,” Amy Hempel, and they talked about the renowned writer and editor Gordon Lish, “captain fiction,” who edited Hempel, Bass, and Raymond Carver in the 1980s. Next up is Idaho and Denis Johnson, the “hermit, the recluse,” who was also ill (he died in 2017). Bass is a huge fan of his prose, “often lean, sizzling like a wire stripped of its protective coating.” In Arizona, he stayed with Doug Peacock, “my most cherished mentor.” There’s a trip to meet the “funniest man in the world,” David Sedaris (London), and the “old man of the mountains,” John Berger (French Alps). Other destinations include Gary Snyder, Barry Lopez, Tom McGuane, Joyce Carol Oates, and the homes of Mississippians Eudora Welty and William Faulkner.

Dripping with tasty anecdotes, literary tales, and great food, this joyful book is delightful.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38123-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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...

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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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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