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A pleasant, slight memoir with a happy ending.

The NPR Weekend Edition host offers an extended personal essay about his lifelong infatuation with the Chicago Cubs.

Even nonfans of Major League Baseball might know that the Cubs finally won the World Series this past October, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since 1908. For decades, fans and pundits spoke, often superstitiously, about the team’s curse. Simon (Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother and the Lessons of a Lifetime, 2015, etc.) is unquestionably a die-hard fan. “My politics, religion, and personal tastes change with whatever I learn from life,” he writes. “But being a Cubs fan is my nature, my heritage, and probably somewhere in my chromosomes. If you prick me, I’m quite sure I’ll bleed Cubby blue.” Over the years, the author bought into the myth that on the rare occasions when the Cubs were playing well, he needed to stay away from the stadium, TV broadcasts, and the radio play-by-play lest his attention would somehow cause the team to lose. Numerous devoted Cubs’ fans and baseball commentators have covered most of the material in this narrowly focused memoir. Occasionally, Simon delves into mostly forgotten Cubs’ history, such as the franchise’s slowness to hire black players after Jackie Robinson broke the sport’s racial barrier shortly after World War II. The author’s musings on the culture of Chicago and the overall nature of over-the-top sports fandom are more original and thus more enlightening. For example, Simon relates the saga of the Billy Goat Tavern, the legendary sports bar near Wrigley Field. The author is also informative about the commercial and cultural life that has developed near the stadium, an area eventually dubbed Wrigleyville. The author is a solid stylist, and his descriptions of Cubs’ players, managers, and owners resonate, as do his anecdotes about his wife and daughters as they try to understand his mania.

A pleasant, slight memoir with a happy ending.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1803-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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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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