An engrossing, thorough, and revealing portrait of a beloved beachside community confronting disaster.

MALIBU BURNING

THE REAL STORY BEHIND LA'S MOST DEVASTATING WILDFIRE

A writer offers stories of California residents caught in the flames of a deadly wildfire.

On Nov. 9, 2018, the Woolsey Fire spread from Simi Valley to Malibu, destroying 100,000 acres of land and forcing 250,000 people to evacuate. What debut author, actor, and longtime resident Kerbeck remembers of that day is “the terror of thinking you’re about to be burned alive in front of your kid.” His book, a collection of tales blending memoir, investigative journalism, and narrative, begins with his own harrowing account of the fire’s rapid descent toward his home. The author then goes on to reconstruct the stories of his neighbors. There are plenty of shocking close calls with “flaming embers”—one standout is the experience of Tanesha Lockhart, who had to “shelter in place” with the youths of a detention center. But Kerbeck also uses the residents’ recollections as a springboard to reach deep into the history of Malibu and the questions of liability surrounding California wildfires. Stars like Bob Dylan and Sean Penn make cameos, but what is more important to the author is the community of Malibu that exists at the edges of its multimillion-dollar homes: the Morra family, which struggled, ultimately in vain, to buy a fire engine dedicated to locals; Valerie Sklarevsky, a hippie activist who lived in a covered wagon; and the Gonzalezes, who built their own doomed, wooden home themselves. Throughout these and the other tales, the author deftly digs into the terror of that day, the deep connections these people felt to the land, and the varying factors that played a role in the Woolsey fire’s rapid development. His ample research allows him to makes surprising connections, linking the fire to the electric provider’s mismanagement and even possibly to nuclear testing in the 1950s while providing a thorough examination of the volunteer and Los Angeles County fire departments. Kerbeck writes about policy and history with the same urgency that he brings to cars engulfed in flames. And he focuses on just the right details—such as a high school production of Spring Awakening and a lost collection of airplane models—to give a robust and very human face to Malibu and the increasingly frequent dangers it faces.

An engrossing, thorough, and revealing portrait of a beloved beachside community confronting disaster.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73347-053-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: MWC Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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