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An intermittently insightful but narrowly focused examination of a marriage that will mostly interest devoted Moody fans.

The acclaimed writer reflects on the hardships he and his second wife endured during their first year of marriage.

Readers familiar with Moody’s (Hotels of North America, 2015, etc.) fiction, especially The Ice Storm, will be drawn to this memoir about the complicated arenas of love and marriage. The opening lines are attention grabbing: “In order to have a second marriage you can believe in you may have to fail at your first marriage. I failed spectacularly at mine.” He goes on to vividly recount the events that triggered his “spectacular failure,” specifically his extramarital relationships, which led to divorce. By the time he met visual artist Laurel Nakadate, the author was approaching his 50s. Having shared some of his past emotional baggage, he assures readers that he is ready to pursue a fully committed relationship, and his month-by-month narrative initially seems to prove his conviction. Moody has a seasoned eye for capturing intriguing details and nuance in a variety of settings, and he brilliantly highlights the competitively hip Park Slope, Brooklyn, arts scene. Yet his story is rambling and often digressive, and as a document of his marriage, it feels surprisingly self-absorbed. Moody writes affectionately of his new wife and continually praises her talent, but he fails to bring Laurel into focus as a fully fleshed-out individual. Her suffering is tangible, primarily in her efforts to make it through a full-term pregnancy, but her presence is peripheral to the deeper internal struggle the author experiences. Dying parents and friends, infertility issues, and a household robbery are among the events they faced in their first year together. “Total up some of the hardships, reader, and ask yourself how we could possibly continue,” writes Moody. All of these are difficult challenges but ones that are not uncommon (other than the robbery) for someone in their 50s. The author ends on a positive note as the couple seems to have achieved a longed-for contentment.

An intermittently insightful but narrowly focused examination of a marriage that will mostly interest devoted Moody fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-844-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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