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AFTER THE ECLIPSE

A MOTHER'S MURDER, A DAUGHTER'S SEARCH

Despite some repetition, deft pacing and vivid portraits result in an absorbing mystery and a forthright memoir of abiding...

In an accomplished debut memoir, a daughter struggles to understand the life of her mother, who was murdered when the author was 12.

An only child, Perry became a problem for her relatives: her unstable grandmother, aunts who lived near and far, and a father who had left her mother years before and willingly gave up parental rights. In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Perry was questioned relentlessly by the police, who intimated that she was somehow complicit in the murder: she must have seen something, or she must have known the killer whom she was protecting. She was haunted by the murder and fearful that the killer would return to murder her, too. Shuttled between relatives in Maine, she finally ended up in Texas, where her mother’s sister Tootsie was stationed with the Army. When Tootsie suddenly and harshly sent her back to Maine, she was taken in by her former babysitter, who claimed to have been her mother’s best friend, a woman incapable of understanding Perry’s emotional state. “My sadness was overwhelmed by fear and visceral disgust and rage,” writes the author, “rage so consuming and aimless that sometimes I was afraid of myself.” At one point, she considered suicide; instead, she deliberately tamped down her feelings. An unsympathetic psychologist concluded that her “effort at control” was “sinister,” indicating that she was somehow involved in her mother’s death. The killer—a man her mother may have known—was apprehended and convicted 12 years after the crime, but the information disclosed during the trial only made her mother more mysterious to Perry. Two TV dramas later documented the case, but the author felt the story was unfinished, inspiring her quest to understand her mother’s life, the series of volatile men she lived with, her community’s culture of violence, and her family’s deep wounds.

Despite some repetition, deft pacing and vivid portraits result in an absorbing mystery and a forthright memoir of abiding grief.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-30265-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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