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A tantalizing, entertaining true-life detective and literary story whose roots were hidden deep in a novel that has...

True crime meets classic American literature.

Lolita wasn’t always considered the great work of literature it has become. Journalist Weinman (editor: Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and ’50s, 2015, etc.), who covers the book publishing industry for Publishers Marketplace, describes the struggles Vladimir Nabokov endured trying to find a publisher for his novel about Humbert Humbert’s desire for and abduction of the young Lolita until the notorious Olympia Press published it overseas in 1955. Weinman also recounts the story of journalist Peter Welding’s 1963 article in the men’s magazine Nugget. He argued that the story of 11-year-old Sally Horner’s abduction in 1948 by mechanic Frank La Salle, who claimed for 12 months that she was his daughter, paralleled the Lolita story “much too closely to be coincidental.” Weinman’s book is about her quest to “figure out what [Nabokov] knew about Sally Horner and when he knew it.” Nabokov always denied any real-life influences. Like any good detective, Weinman visited the places Sally visited, talked to people who knew her and La Salle, and visited the schools Sally attended. At times, the author relies on her imagination to re-create Sally’s story: Did Sally imagine escaping; did she pray? In alternating chapters, Weinman recounts the 20-year genesis of Nabokov’s novel, which “emerged piecemeal.” She explores how he and his wife often traveled the country, staying at motels and searching for butterflies, all the while composing Lolita on index cards. The author also draws attention to an August 1952, newspaper article about Sally’s death at 15 and the notes Nabokov took about it. Here, she writes, “is proof that her story captured his attention.” Ultimately, “Lolita’s narrative...depended more on a real-life crime than Nabokov would ever admit.”

A tantalizing, entertaining true-life detective and literary story whose roots were hidden deep in a novel that has perplexed and challenged readers for decades.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266192-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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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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