A weighty, captivating look at a caregiver who deals with death, mental illness, and the struggles of refugees in America.




In this memoir, a caregiver relates the stories of the myriad people in her life she has helped, including her husband, mother, and an African family.

Years after their relationship began in secret, Larkin’s (Resettled, 2016) colleague Ron proposed to her. Soon after, they would find themselves moving to Boise, Idaho, “to make a fresh start”—in a city that seemingly wouldn’t hold many surprises but where the author quickly found herself caught up in the plight of the Bantu people. A persecuted ethnic minority from Somalia seeking asylum in the United States, the Bantu were brought to Boise in an effort to disperse refugee populations outside the major cities. Coincidentally, Larkin had studied the Bantu in school. She soon found herself helping and befriending young mother Fatuma; her ill husband, Yusuf; and their three children. The author helped Fatuma’s family to navigate mental illness, cancer, and a rebellious older son—finding the familial connection she sometimes lacked from her standoffish stepchildren. “Fatuma and I were so different,” Larkin writes, “but certain tragedies continued to bind us together.” With the discovery that Ron had glioblastoma multiforme, the author suddenly encountered a maze of fear and bureaucracy that would eventually lead her to lose the love of her life. She then started over yet again by leaving for Seattle to care for her elderly mother. The author skillfully shows how these events led her to experience many of Fatuma’s feelings of alienation and strain without ever leaving her own country. In its opening chapters, Larkin’s book explores the familiar tropes of a Westerner trying to reconcile immigrant experiences and foreign cultures with a suburban lifestyle that suddenly seems lavish. At one point, the author returned home and realized her garage was bigger than Fatuma’s apartment. But soon Larkin settles into a much more intriguing and substantial meditation on caregivers. Without ever boasting or lamenting, the author manages to perfectly capture both the joys and the immense psychological toll of constantly helping others, becoming an inspiring survivor herself in the process.

A weighty, captivating look at a caregiver who deals with death, mental illness, and the struggles of refugees in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9976983-0-5

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Ahadi Publications

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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