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A memoir of potentially broad appeal muffled by theoretical material: the latter belongs in another book.

Reflections on fame by a woman who witnessed its effects on her parents, lived in its shadow for many years, and then studied it as a psychological phenomenon.

Erik H. Erikson’s book Childhood and Society (1950) made him a celebrity when his daughter was 13. Young Sue was uneasily aware that the public image of her parents as an exceptionally gifted couple with valuable insights into human relationships was at odds with her experience of them as real, tormented people with unresolved issues. The most painful of these concerned the Down syndrome baby her mother gave birth to when the author was five. He was immediately placed in an institution, but her parents told her the baby had died, and she did not learn the truth for eight years. This abandoned, handicapped child, Bloland believes, was the emotional centerpiece of Erikson family life. The appearance of normality was essential to her father’s professional reputation; she was instructed never to misbehave in public, never to act in any way that might indicate that her parents were other than ideal. The author was well into adulthood before she understood the harmful effects of such stultification on her own sense of self-worth. In addition to recounting what it was like growing up in such a household, Bloland delves into her parents’ pasts, finding in their early experiences of parental rejection the explanation for their overwhelming need to be admired by others and to achieve fame. In time, as Boland underwent psychoanalysis and trained to become a psychotherapist, she concluded that a paradoxical relationship always exists between an idealized public image and the private self. As a professional, she decided to focus her attention on issues related to fame, the drives associated with it, and its emotional fallout. Her thoughts on those matters make up the later chapters, which are likely to be of interest primarily to other mental-health professionals.

A memoir of potentially broad appeal muffled by theoretical material: the latter belongs in another book.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2005

ISBN: 0-670-03374-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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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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