A choreographer’s wild stories and engaging insights into love, life and artistic practice.

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CONFESSIONS OF A MOTION ADDICT

A candid memoir of misadventures and modern dance.

In this talky debut, dancer and choreographer Petronio looks at the formative experiences that set his dance career in motion—and the momentum that’s carried him forward ever since. His wit and penchant for getting into ridiculous situations may call to mind celebrated gay memoirists such as David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, but Petronio, a self-described “awkward boy/obstinate man,” has a story that’s all his own. He grew up in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s and, after a college girlfriend encouraged him to take his first dance class, went on to have an acclaimed career. His trajectory is quite impressive, and readers interested in the downtown New York art and performance scene will enjoy his stories about collaborating with people such as Lou Reed, Cindy Sherman, Rufus Wainwright and Yoko Ono, to name a few. On the other hand, the name-dropping sometimes clutters the narrative with superfluous detail and contributes to an undercurrent of self-satisfaction. The book’s range of tones, however, proves to be one of its greatest strengths; the author is equally at ease with introspection as he is with showmanship, proving that camp and spiritual inquiry aren’t mutually exclusive. Unsurprisingly, he has a gift for articulating the complex experiences of movement and performance, and some of his best prose comes when he’s describing dance. Under the header “Two versions of the same dance on different nights,” for example, he offers two conflicting accounts: One begins, “My arm is moving like no other in history,” and the other starts, “I am moving my arm, how humiliating.” Overall, Petronio approaches his most sacred material—his life’s work—with humor and grace.

A choreographer’s wild stories and engaging insights into love, life and artistic practice.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492736547

Page Count: 288

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 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...

NIGHT

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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