THE STORY I AM

MAD ABOUT THE WRITING LIFE

A warmhearted testimony of gratitude and humility.

A prolific writer reflects on his commitment to his craft.

Essayist, novelist, playwright, and English professor Rosenblatt gathers a sampling from his 40-year writing career that reveals the “exhilaration and exasperation” of the work that has long engaged him: “I write simply because I am enthralled with the writer’s life, mad for it, and with the act of writing.” Among the pieces are excerpts—some as short as a paragraph—from longer works, such as his memoirs Kayak Morning (“Writing makes sorrow endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable, and love possible”), The Boy Detective, Making Toast, and the unpublished Unaccompanied Minor; his mock instruction book Rules for Aging (nobody is “denigrating your work behind your back,” he promises); essays from previous collections, such as Anything Can Happen; pieces that appeared in newspapers and literary journals; and selections from published and unpublished novels and plays. One essay specifically on craft comes from his writing companion Unless It Moves the Human Heart, but not all pieces concern writing directly. Rosenblatt discloses, for example, his mother’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease; praises a teacher from whom he learned to “look at the world with wonder and pleasure”; and describes an image, recalled from childhood, of seeing a young woman weeping on stone steps in Columbus Circle. Even though he knows that using a word processor would make life easier for his publishers, he prefers to compose on a yellow legal notepad and transcribe his work on an electric typewriter. “Editors never question why they must put my materials into the system for me,” he writes. “They have simply found it expedient to adapt to my strangeness, mainly because I have never indicated that I would adapt to them.” Appreciative of sound and cadence, Rosenblatt has always been nourished by poets. Sometimes nostalgic, even sad, he regrets that although he has not “eradicated world poverty” or “put an end to injustice, or even to casual cruelty,” he has given the world a singular bequest: love.

A warmhearted testimony of gratitude and humility.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-885983-78-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Turtle Point

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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