While plenty of writers have tried their hand at capturing the improvisational brilliance of jazz, with varying degrees of...

An improvisational, personal meditation on the subject of love.

The concept of love can be tricky to pin down. Many definitions include a variation on the feeling of passion—something powerful, inflamed, wild, difficult to control and all-consuming. Intensity, desire and enthusiasm are common to feeling love for something or someone. In this warm, musical exploration on love, Rosenblatt (English and Writing/Stony Brook Univ.; The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood, 2013, etc.) wanders down all of those paths, but he spends extra time examining the idea of being in love. He begins with a story about the Chinese inventing the clock and it being stored away in the emperor’s vaults, forgotten. When sailors from France arrived 400 years later with their new invention—the clock—their Chinese hosts were amazed, having never seen anything quite so wonderful. More than 100 pages pass before Rosenblatt tips his hand—“You don’t forget something important to you unless it isn’t important”—only to show that his cards won’t reveal answers, except for the ones we already know but require a new perspective to see. If that sounds vague in an off-putting way, worry not; there’s all manner of insight to be found, packed neatly into fewer than 200 pages. Rosenblatt pulls from popular culture, mythology and anecdotal stories to create a mural that is both wide-ranging and focused. “I sympathize with people who seek to create a unity of thought and emotion out of disorder,” he writes, “but I also believe that trying to fit parts into a whole makes each component smaller, less interesting and inauthentic.”

While plenty of writers have tried their hand at capturing the improvisational brilliance of jazz, with varying degrees of success, Rosenblatt’s wanderings with the subject of love are like Coltrane at the Village Vanguard. When you hear it, you know.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0062349422

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014


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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