A treat for book lovers, especially those who lust for the productions of Feltrinelli, Bompiani, and, of course, Adelphi.

The eminent Italian litteratus and publisher brings learning and passion to this chronicle of the business of getting books into the hands of readers.

American bibliophiles covet books published by Knopf and the Modern Library. Italians look, foremost among other houses, to Adelphi, where Calasso (Ardor, 2014, etc.) has been working since its founding in 1962. With a look and feel that can’t be mistaken for books published by other houses, the books of Adelphi fulfill what the author considers chief among the criteria of artful publishing: “the capacity to give form to a plurality of books as though they were the chapters of a single book.” Describing publishing as, alternately, an example of what the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss called bricolage and, more modernly, as “a hybrid multimedia literary genre,” Calasso stakes a claim for both up-to-dateness and reverence for tradition—for, he argues, the best publisher ever was one of the first, the great Venetian printer and entrepreneur Aldus Manutius. But not too much up-to-dateness—for all that multimedia talk, the author spends a good part of this slender book arguing directly and indirectly with the American technology writer Kevin Kelly, whose embrace of e-books and an end of mass-produced physical books sends Calasso up the wall. Much of this collection hinges on some knowledge of Italian cultural affairs, or at least enough familiarity with history to appreciate a sentiment such as, “the writings of the Red Brigades are always hard going at the start.” But much, too, is pure celebration of books and the devotion to letters that good publishers evidence in abundance and excess, a good publisher being, as Calasso writes, “one who publishes one tenth of the books that he would like to, and perhaps ought to, publish.”

A treat for book lovers, especially those who lust for the productions of Feltrinelli, Bompiani, and, of course, Adelphi.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-18823-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015


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



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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