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PICASSO'S WOMAN

A BREAST CANCER STORY

Published in Canada in slightly different form in 1994, this absorbing story of a resourceful and courageous woman learning to live with breast cancer received the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award. A paramedic trained to take control in critical situations, an ocean kayaker accustomed to pushing herself to the limits, and a poet with a gift for self-expression, MacPhee seems better equipped than most women both to face her frightening ordeal and to share the experience with others. What happened to her is unfortunately all too common today, but her account of it is uncommonly good. In 1991 she discovered a lump in her right breast; a biopsy showed the lump to be malignant. A few months later, while still recovering from a mastectomy, she discovered a lump in her left breast, and a lumpectomy was performed. MacPhee writes honestly and powerfully about the impact of cancer on herself, her family—she and her husband have two teenage daughters—and her community of women friends. Friends play an important role in MacPhee's life, and the withdrawal of one of her closest ones during this time is especially difficult for her to accept. Her attitude toward her prosthesis, her ``boob,'' as she derisively calls it, and her eventual discarding of it reveal much about the importance of self-image and the difficulties of coming to terms with a drastically altered body. Indeed, the present work's title expresses the kinship MacPhee feels with one of Picasso's Cubist paintings of a woman with rearranged body parts. An afterword by Kathy LaTour, a breast cancer activist and survivor, reveals that MacPhee has had a recurrence of cancer and is working on a follow-up book, tentatively titled ``Any Day Above Ground Is a Good One.'' Any book from MacPhee promises equally to be a good one.

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56836-138-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Kodansha

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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