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THE OTHER MOTHER

A REMEMOIR

Pleasant and sympathetic, even in its darker moments—of particular interest to readers schooled at the barre.

Affecting memoir of intergenerational friendship.

Bernice Rosalie Miller, aka Byrne, was a pioneer of modern dance, a graduate of the school of hard knocks and the burlesque stage who grew comfortably old with a struggling-writer husband, Duncan, both fixtures in the cultural life of Beaufort, S.C. It was there that Bruce, a dancer and gymnast–turned–TV reporter looking for a different path, met them. Bruce was involved in a difficult relationship, complex as only difficult relationships can be, and still wounded by the tragic death of a young brother years before, so that friendship with the Millers came at just the right time, as Byrne became the voice of experience and “other mother” that Bruce needed. The author traces their stories separately and together, marking, in understated prose, the points where roads were not taken and fateful decisions were made. The Millers’ love story is invigorating and often charming, if now a touch old-fashioned; the modern Don Juan does not tug away a woman’s scarf and say, “Hold nothing back, my love….Every part of you is too stunning to subdue.” The narrative occasionally drags in earnestness, and the players are sometimes less scintillating than Bruce might wish; not everything they do and say is drenched in genius. In particular, Byrne’s apothegms (“Monogamy is overrated. Honesty is imperative”) become tiresome—Harold and Maude without the Harold. However, Bruce does a good job of weaving divergent stories into one, and there are some nice moments of emotion and drama, as when a manuscript of Duncan’s confronts Byrne with some uncomfortable truths (if disguised as fictions) at the same time that Byrne’s daughter decides to do the very thing that would shock her bohemian parents the most: enlist in the Marines.

Pleasant and sympathetic, even in its darker moments—of particular interest to readers schooled at the barre.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9841073-9-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Joggling Board Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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NIGHT

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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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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