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AGORAFABULOUS!

DISPATCHES FROM MY BEDROOM

Fabulously quirky and outrageous.

A blisteringly funny yet affecting debut memoir about a young woman’s struggle to overcome panic disorder and agoraphobia.

Podcast host and award-winning comedian Benincasa recounts her adolescent devolution into a “full-on, obsessive, cowering, trembling agoraphobe.” She suffered her first panic attacks when she was 11 and was taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to control her condition by the time she was 16. Her phobias continued to intensify to the point where even short trips to the hair salon became difficult for her. Benincasa, however, ignored the signs that her “weird problems” were getting worse until she got to college. During her junior year, she broke down completely. In the terrible omniscience born from madness, she woke up one day “knowing” that to leave her apartment meant certain disaster. The comedian then began a slow and painful surrender to the phobias that had dogged her from childhood. Her bed became her refuge, cereal bowls her toilets. Therapy, homemade smoothies, “Zentastic, organic, free-range, fair trade, sustainable, sage-scented self-help books” and the timely intervention of friends and family pulled Benincasa back from the edge of her agoraphobic abyss. But she continued to wrestle with her demons through college, teaching jobs and graduate school until she discovered, by accident, the healing power of stand-up comedy. “I subscribe to the notion,” she writes, “that if you can laugh at the shittiest moments in your life, you can transcend them.”

Fabulously quirky and outrageous.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-202441-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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