Dry, intelligent recollections of a fly-fishing life, from Raymond (Steelhead Country, not reviewed, etc.). Raymond has cobbled together 16 essays, grouped under four categories: fishing acquaintances, venues (the Miramichi, Christmas Island, the River Dee, and others), items (flies, cane rods, and an odd-man-out piece on reviewing fishing books), and a mostly humorous miscellany. For Raymond, who has been editing and writing fishing material almost as long as he has been fishing (though he makes his living as a newspaperman), this is not a greatest hits collection—there are winners and losers in each section. Rather, the essays are bound together by their honesty and practicality and in their desire to convey the boundless, multihued fascinations of a day astream, even when it features kidney stone torment, rattlesnakes, poison ivy, and dog feces all in an afternoon. As with any fishing book that isn’t afraid to float a position, readers will find much to quibble with: which writers on fly fishing are worth reading (he suspiciously neglects Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, Bill Barich, and Datus Proper, perhaps because Raymond is a bit prim), the claim that class status isn’t a consideration when choosing a fishing buddy, or the inconceivable statement that he liked the movie A River Runs Through It better than Norman Maclean’s book. There are times when his prose comes empurpled——each wave driven by the pulsing energy of the world’s great hidden heart——but not enough to be mortifying. There are other times when the writing feels like a plug for a lodge: “The 12 guest rooms had been outfitted with air-conditioning units and new queen-sized beds.” But for the most part, these are good fishing stories: glorious locales, smartly observed; a wealth of arcana and history and self-deprecating humor. And it doesn’t hurt that he can turn a decent phrase.

Pub Date: July 17, 1998

ISBN: 1-55821-700-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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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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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...


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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