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In a book filled with wit, candor, and poignancy, the author concludes, “late-life love may heat at a lower temperature, but...

A deeply personal and bittersweet paean to love “immune to the vicissitude of time.”

Feminist scholar Gubar’s (Emeritus, English/Indiana Univ.; Reading and Writing Cancer: How Words Heal, 2016, etc.) memoir could be read as the third in a trilogy of books she’s recently written exploring her fight against cancer and the roles art and love play in the battle. Her husband, Don, 17 years older than she and suffering from injuries and age-related problems, figured in earlier books, but he’s front and center here. Complicating their time together was the difficult decision to leave their large house, Inverness, for an apartment. She borrows a term from Joyce Carol Oates, “bibliomemoir,” to describe her quest to find “honest portraits” from fiction, poems, plays, and films that deal with the “tensions, tussles, and triumphs of my own later-life love affair.” Gubar “integrate[s] literary interpretation with personal reflection” to fashion a “resounding retort to overwhelmingly negative valuations of aging.” She sets off “searching for trail markings on an uncleared path” with Jenny Diski’s “comedy of bad manners,” Happily Ever After, and then discovers Helen Simonson’s “sparkling” novel about loss, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which drew her into a “world unlike my own.” Gubar also discusses Samuel Beckett’s “unexpectedly funny” play Happy Days, a “geriatric farce intriguing in its portrayal of a later-life love affair like no other.” Gabriel García Márquez’s “sprawling” Love in the Time of Cholera hits the “grand slam of late-life love tradition” with its portrait of love as “both a sickness and an anodyne.” Offering particular support were poet and translator Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall’s poems about his ill wife, and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Lila, which cost Gubar “half a box of tissues.”

In a book filled with wit, candor, and poignancy, the author concludes, “late-life love may heat at a lower temperature, but it bubbles and rises.”

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-60957-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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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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