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An artful example of how the deeply personal can also be the broadly general.

A noted cartoonist and essayist returns with another collection of profoundly personal essays.

A number of themes and motifs glide through the gleaming streams of Kreider’s (We Learn Nothing, 2012, etc.) writing. He writes continually about his relationships with women, all of which have broken (though some amiably so), and he notes that he has never been married or even lived with a woman. We also hear about the cat he’s had for nearly 20 years; the author wryly notes that this relationship has lasted the longest of his adult life. Throughout, Kreider, the creator of the popular comic strip “The Pain—When Will It End?” deploys an extremely self-deprecating tone, which comes across as appealing and humorous and, sometimes, laugh-out-loud funny. He identifies himself as an atheist, but he also says that belief is “softening” now. He also writes affectingly about time, observing that the past is really just a story we continually revise. Though most of the pieces—previously published in other forms—are brief, there are a couple of longer ones, including one about “attachment theory,” a topic that increased in interest for him when he learned that as an infant he’d been involved in a key psychological study on the topic. His liberal political views are evident, particularly so in “Our War on Terror,” an essay that gently interweaves his observations about current events with an account of another imploding relationship with a woman. Literary and cultural allusions pop up throughout the collection: Albee, Gilgamesh, Maslow, Freud, Montaigne, Descartes, and others. Kreider can also be informal/nontraditional in his language, and the pieces are piercingly, painfully reflective: for example, he discusses his college teaching experiences and how he dealt with his sexual attractions to his students.

An artful example of how the deeply personal can also be the broadly general.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3899-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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