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Readers will marvel not only at Marceau, but at the book itself, which displays such command of the material and such...

A unique, poetic critical appreciation of Marcel Marceau (1923-2007).

The first few pages of radio producer and artist Wen’s short book look like blank verse, with succinct lines and plenty of white space. As the narrative unfolds into a meditation on the famous French mime, the poetry never leaves, even as Marceau’s inner voice advises, “leave speech behind. The body has its own language: weight, resistance, hesitation, surprise.” Surprises abound within these chapters, many no longer than a paragraph and few extending more than a couple of pages. The first surprise is the author’s ability to convey, in carefully chosen words, the essence and significance of this wordless art, especially when the reader learns that she is a radio producer, perhaps drawn to her subject because radio is the least promising medium for mime. Then there’s the American attitude toward mime in general, a disdain that makes such a fascinating book on one all the more of a wonder. “A journalist asked Marcel Marceau why most Americans hated mime,” writes Wen. “Marceau responded, ‘Because most mimes are lousy.’ ” The author meticulously details what distinguished the artist, the self-proclaimed “Picasso of mime,” in a series of scenes that show the magic of his performances and in annotated catalogs of the collections of artifacts that made the environment he constructed what his daughter called a “world apart” and a “virtual museum.” Wen also tiptoes into his personal life. His first wife “said he would not speak to her for days on end. She called it mental cruelty. He called it rehearsal.” She also traces the arc of his decline, his old age and death, and the apostle he left behind: “They learned to reproduce his gestures faithfully. And when they succeeded in mirroring the master, they began to unravel the art.”

Readers will marvel not only at Marceau, but at the book itself, which displays such command of the material and such perfect pitch.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941411-48-3

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Sarabande

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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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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