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An Eventful Life

The memoir stalls in spots, but Parker is a likable, sympathetic narrator.

This short memoir tracks the author’s lifelong trek from Australia to England to New Zealand and back home.

Debut memoirist Parker’s granddaughter asked for an account of her great-grandfather’s life (which is included as a short addendum to this book). But her request sparked Parker’s urge to recount his own. Born in 1925 in the small Australian town of Carcoar, New South Wales, he went on to at least three careers as a navy man, a merchant seaman, and a teacher. He was a mediocre student but an avid athlete who didn’t get a high school degree until late in life and then went on to university. Early on, the family—father was a World War I vet and a traveling “picture-show man”—moved to Sydney, so young Parker became an urban kid with roots in the country. We learn about his friends and casual enemies (fistfighting seems to have been a popular pastime) and of all the sports that he reveled in. We follow him over the years to England and New Zealand and back home to Ianthe, the girl he finally married. The last chapters are the saddest but the best. Ianthe suffered from dementia and he couldn’t care for Ianthe at home. He felt guilty for having larked about while she raised the kids and kept the home going (one wants to say, “Please don’t beat up on yourself so!”). After a health scare, his desperate and humorous attempt to have chickens for a bit of company ended badly. But in his facing old age and loneliness head-on, we do come to really like this fellow. It’s the best part of the book. Fuzzy black-and-whites from family albums add charm. The anecdotes often fall flat, and the punctuation is very strange, often not just distracting but genuinely confusing.

The memoir stalls in spots, but Parker is a likable, sympathetic narrator.

Pub Date: July 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-50-350276-5

Page Count: 136

Publisher: XlibrisAU

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2015

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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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