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MEMORIES

FROM MOSCOW TO THE BLACK SEA

Fluently translated by several hands and introduced by Teffi’s biographer, Edythe Haber, these are priceless anecdotes and...

Poignant reflections of a beloved Russian humorist as she fled her homeland on the eve of Bolshevik victory.

As more of the work of Russian poet, playwright, and short story author Teffi (the nom de plume of Nadezhda Aleksandrovna Lokhvitskaya, 1872-1952) is translated, her English-language fans will certainly increase, as she is a delightful stylist, dialogist, and observer of her era. Teffi was known for her wry poetry and feuilletons published in the Russian reviews of the first decade of the 20th century (Satirikon, Russian Word), yet her sympathy toward the Bolsheviks cooled when the magazine she wrote for, New Life, became a mere party organ; she then moved to Moscow. In her subsequent travels, she did not glean that fate was favoring the Bolshevik cause. As she first fled an increasingly intolerable existence in Petrograd, she moved with the rumors of safe areas still held by the “whites,” Ukraine and the Black Sea. The stages of her journey during this precarious time make up these amusing and affecting “memories,” first published in installments between 1928 and 1930 in a Russian-language newspaper in Paris, where she finally located permanently. The work chronicles her flight from Moscow and subsequent chaotic and perilous travels to Kiev and Odessa. She was first harnessed to a Ukrainian Jewish “impresario” named Gooskin, who helped mitigate her transfer (along with other motley characters) to the Ukrainian border, and then she traveled by ship from Odessa to Novorossiysk, where all kinds of fleeing types had washed up. Finally, she arrived in Yekaterinodor, where she had agreed to do two nights of readings. Throughout, the author’s characterizations are precise and even ruthless, and she captures the tense mood of paranoia and sorrow of the refugee.

Fluently translated by several hands and introduced by Teffi’s biographer, Edythe Haber, these are priceless anecdotes and beautiful portraits of friends and acquaintances lost forever.

Pub Date: May 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59017-952-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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