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$12.21 $1.75 list($17.95)
121. Manhattan Memoir
$16.32 $13.30 list($24.00)
122. Matzo Balls for Breakfast and
$10.20 $3.77 list($15.00)
123. Recollections of My Life As a
$10.36 $0.69 list($12.95)
124. 44 Dublin Made Me
$21.95 $21.29
125. Mourning a Father Lost: A Kibbutz
$16.49 $16.35 list($24.99)
126. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
127. Listening for the Crack of Dawn
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128. A Bag of Marbles
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129. Red Hook: Confessions of a Brooklyn
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130. Trains of Thought : Paris to Omaha
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131. Better Than Sane: Tales from a
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132. Go Ask Ogre : Letters from a Deathrock
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133. Hitler Youth to U.S. Citizen
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134. Stolen Innocence : Triumphing
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135. Pagan Time: An American Childhood
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136. The Blessing: A Memoir
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137. Road to Nab End: A Lancashire
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138. Village of the Small Houses: A
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139. A Nearly Normal Life : A Memoir
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140. The Tiger Ladies: A Memoir of

121. Manhattan Memoir
by Mary Cantwell
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140291903
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 281194
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The New York Times said that Mary Cantwell, in telling the story of her life, "Makes you discover yourself." Now, gathered in a single volume, are her three beautifully etched, unflinchingly honest memoirs. Cantwell's first book, American Girl, evoked the delights of her youth in a small New England town; her second, Manhattan, When I Was Young, told of her blossoming career in New York, her marriage and her children, and that marriage's decline. Speaking with Strangers finds Cantwell alone, a single mother struggling in the big city, bereft of her husband but bolstered by friends, thriving in her career yet personally troubled. With a sensibility as distinct as the city she calls home, Cantwell's autobiographical trilogy brilliantly captures her struggle to forge a life with one foot in her past and the other, warily, in her present.

"Cantwell writes with breathless intensity." --People

"As in the best of memoirs, the place is a character in the play, and Cantwell's courage as a wife and working mother also has a life and inspiration of its own."--Los Angeles Times
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful prose and a fascinating story
The other reviews told what the book was about. I just wanted to add to their comments by saying that I couldn't put the book down and was sad when it ended. Her words flowed so beautifully.

4-0 out of 5 stars Delightful, Engaging and Unflinchingly Honest
Mary Cantwell bares her triumphs and joys as well as her shortcomings and insecurities in this collection of three memoirs that span her childhood, early adulthood, and middle- to late-adulthood respectively. Cantwell lead a wonderful, if unremarkable, childhood in an enviably Rockwell-esque seaside town - her depiction of her life through high-school is a real joy to read. Upon graduation from college, Cantwell hits the "Big City" appears to have forgotten some of the lessons learned in her idyllic childhood, however, she still manages to snag a plumb job with Mademoiselle Magazine and occasionally interacts with literary legends with her ambitious young husband. In her later life she is given interesting writing assignments and carves out a life for herself in Lower Manhattan, however, I found it discouraging that she wallows in the collapse of her marriage (which never appeared to be very strong), often to the detriment of her two daughters. I kept wondering how a woman with such a strong background could have allowed herself to sink to the depths Cantwell periodically allowed herself to hit. Regardless, she is not ashamed to remember less-than-glamorous moments in her life (which also include being jeered by fellow classmates as an elementary school student and suffering from paralyzing fits of self-doubt as a young career woman) - these are the events that have made her what she is.

It must have been incredibly therapeutic for Cantwell to write these memoirs. All three books can be seen as a view of the author's life from within her own head. Her message is simple: accept me for what I am. "Manhattan Memoir," in addition to being the story of Mary Cantwell's life, it also about trying to be true to oneself when one isn't always sure what that means. By writing her story, Cantwell examines her life and tries to learn from her experiences - and it can make the reader start to think about his/her own life as well.

While Cantwell's life is not particularly fascinating or different in itself, her writing style and manner of portraying her experiences are magical and riveting. She describes the joyous and painful events of her life in an easy, engaging manner - it is as if she is talking about the past with old friends. She manages to make the mundane fascinating. She also has a real gift for engaging the reader. I wasn't sure if I liked her writing style at first - Cantwell writes almost as one speaks - but within pages of beginning the book I became used to her rambling style and truly enjoyed it.

This book provides an added plus for those from or familiar with Rhode Island and/or New York City. It was fun for me to recognize the addresses of Cantwell's Manhattan apartments and know that the places she frequented, I often go to today.

5-0 out of 5 stars A delightful walk through time
The late Mary Cantwell charmingly recounts, in this 3 books in one volume paperback, her years growing up in a small New England seaport town and her youthful foray into the 'glamourous' magazine world of New York City in the 'fities. Sane, sensible and warm nostalgia--without being saccharine. Beautifully written. A must for the literate and for New York lovers-- especially those who remember the days! ... Read more

122. Matzo Balls for Breakfast and Other Memories of Growing Up Jewish
by Alan King
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
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Asin: 0743260732
Catlog: Book (2004-11-22)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 19127
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Book Description

This rewarding book, which you'll want to pass on to family and friends, is the first of its kind. Until King undertook this project, no celebrity had ever before assembled a book about growing up Jewish that presents totally new writing by famous people, many of them entertainers themselves. Combining warmhearted humor with a prideful nostalgia, these essays discuss life in the Jewish family and neighborhood, being a Jew in a non-Jewish world, Jewish holidays, and discovering the essence of being Jewish.

And so we savor the stories: Neil Sedaka on not becoming a cantor; Alan Dershowitz on seeking a rabbinical blessing for that new Brooklyn Dodger, Yakov Robinson; Susan Stamberg on learning that the entire world was not, in fact, Jewish; Jerry Stiller on the Jewish origins of his ambitions to become a comedian; Melissa Manchester on finding her way to the faith. In his foreword to the book, CNN's Larry King hails his much-missed departed friend, Alan.

Alan King -- the beloved comic, actor, producer, author, philanthropist, and storyteller extraordinaire -- understood that humor helped the Jewish people survive dark times through the ages and that, in modern-day America, humor could wash away the barriers between Jews and non-Jews. As a final section in this book, Rick Moranis, Barbara Walters, and Billy Crystal recall the Alan King they knew so well and laughed with so often. Enjoy. ... Read more

123. Recollections of My Life As a Woman: The New York Years
by Diane Di Prima
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0140231587
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 216159
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Recollections of My Life as a Woman, Diane di Prima explores the first three decades of her extraordinary life. Born into a conservative Italian American family, di Prima grew up in Brooklyn but broke away from her roots to follow through on a lifelong commitment to become a poet, first made when she was in high school. Immersing herself in Manhattan's early 1950s Bohemia, di Prima quickly emerged as a renowned poet, an influential editor, and a single mother at a time when this was unheard of. Vividly chronicling the intense, creative cauldron of those years, she recounts her revolutionary relationships and sexuality, and how her experimentation led her to define herself as a woman. What emerges is a fascinating narrative about the courage and triumph of the imagination, and how one woman discovered her role in the world.

"This journey of a young Italian American girl, through the minefields of her childhood in Brooklyn to her breakthrough as a liberated female intellectual decades before the modern women's movement began, is never less than honest and resounds with authenticity." (The Washington Post)

"These 'Recollections' are full of light and wonder." (San Francisco Chronicle)
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Thing!
This is a wonderful book, presenting a brilliant vibrant picture of a cultural movement and time, the Beats/Hippies, and a woman who embodied all the artistic and humanistic values in an incredibly pure form. To me, the book (and the woman) are inspiring in their dedication to the values of art, spontanaeity, love, and Zen naturalness. An invaluable read for women artists, especially, and also for artists in general, and people interested in a certain world view and life style.

5-0 out of 5 stars quite the life
I found this book to be captivating. I felt as though I was right along side her on her journeys. The eras she lived through were so richly detailed. She had so much hope and energy. I never wanted this book to end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beat then and now
Diane di Prima is one of the most foremost and noteworthy female writers of the Beat generation and the 20th century. She has been affiliated with such writers as Jack Keroac, Allen Ginsburg and Robert Creeley. She wrote and inspired in a mans world bringing to life a new female perspective in the 1950's. She continues to write extraordinary poetry, essays, and amazing prose. Her writing style is original and still refreshing to read fifty years later. Diane in her latest book Recollections of My Life As a Woman : The New York Years, an autobiography, goes on to embrace all aspects of her life as a woman. It was an amazing book. I enjoyed it, and I think most will, even if your forte is not beat generation history. It's a good read for others who want to learn more about the beat generation, and it's a great book because of the excellent narrative, and the obvious love she has for writing as well as life it's self.

4-0 out of 5 stars I Cried
At the end of the book I cried because it was over. That happened once before at age 10 when I finished Black Beauty. This book hit nerves in me that hadn't been touched since On the Road. DiPrima's brilliance, toughness, honesty and forays into the unknown make me want to find her phone number so I can talk to her... this rare woman!

4-0 out of 5 stars More divine Di Prima
Di Prima is not really meant to be a novelist -- and that's the beauty of this volume. Whereas the backbone of "poetic" writers such as Anne Rice is brutally literary, Di Prima captures all of that grandeur without so much embellishment. It's her poetry all over again: gritty, surreal, heartbreaking, fluid, and ever returning to her theme of what it means to be a woman and how she sought to find that meaning. This is especially gripping in terms of being a bisexual street poet (and later a single mother) in 1950s America. In an era when "gray was the colour and vanilla the flavour" -- when any deviation in hemline or hair length labeled you a communist, her differences were painful. Even the New York beats had a male chauvanist hierarchy that considered themselves far too good for Diane's realism, street language, slang. It seems that every life lesson we have to learn is somehow couched in this book, even through experiences one would hope to never endure. ... Read more

124. 44 Dublin Made Me
by Peter Sheridan
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
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Asin: 0140286411
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 491687
Average Customer Review: 4.23 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

It is New Year's Eve in Dublin, 1959. On the rooftop of 44 Seville Place, ten-year-old Peter Sheridan clings to the steel rod of a television antenna. When his father urges him to turn the antenna toward England, the boy reaches up, and pictures from a foreign place beam into their living room. Life in the Sheridan family will never be the same again.

As the 1960s unfold, the Sheridans experience all the decade has to offer: sex, the Beatles, drugs, and The Troubles in Belfast. One of the best-known figures in Irish contemporary theater, Peter Sheridan recounts these hilarious, awkward, and heartbreaking years with exquisite timing and dramatic precision. Honest, sharp-witted, and compassionate, 44: Dublin Made Me draws us into this loving family as we explore the Dublin that shaped this young boy.

"Seldom has the blossoming of artistic passion been so effectively captured . . . it will get into your brain and your blood and stay there a long time."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Peter Sheridan writes at the crossroads where hilarity and heartbreak, tenderness and savagery meet. The people who live there are often cruel, often magnificent, and always, always human. He captures them perfectly."--Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and A Star Called Henry

"Sharp, jazzy, hilarious, and often painful . . . You'll rejoice in this wild song of a book."--Frank McCourt
44 was short-listed for The Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Nonfiction
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Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent look at sixties Dublin.
Peter Sheridan's Irish family is a cherished read. In descibing his fathers makeshift bathroom, Sheridan states that he used his own toilet paper made from a local telephone directory..."He's down to the r's...he's now wiping his arse with the Rileys"....Pure Irish dry humor at it's best! The loved and classic Beatles' "Sgt.Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" album is brought to life once again for us all. This book is a great look at a loving Dublin family, through their good times and bad times, in the 1960's. Very worthwhile!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Rewarding Read
In the opening chapter of his memoirs, Peter Sheridan pedals off on his bike to run an errand for his father. Even at the age of 8, there's no way he could get lost in his own city. He "loves the statues and monuments. If Dublin were a woman, he'd marry her."

*** "44 Dublin Made Me" will invariably be compared to Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes" on the sole count of being Irish. The Irish, however, are a diverse people, and life in Dublin is very different from life in Limmerick. McCourt's family faced scraping poverty, whereas Sheridan's family (by no means millionaires) have a steady home environment, food on the table, and the constant presence of both parents raising a large brood.

*** Peter Sheridan focuses on the decade of the 60s which begins with childhood innocence (getting a TV for the first time) and makes his way through adolescence and two defining events in the author's life -- a disturbing encounter on a train at age 13 and later the death of a family member.

*** Sheridan has a wonderful voice for storytelling. He stays true to his kid spirit and endears without being precious. And in fine Irish tradition, every laugh has a tragic edge and every sadness is survived by some beauty.

3-0 out of 5 stars Irish yarn unravels into beautiful story
As if drawn by a gravitational pull, Irish yarns seem to center on the relationship of children with their mothers. In a break from this natural order, Peter Sheridan's memoir, 44 Dublin Made Me turns to the bond of a boy with his father for its compelling tale.

Sheridan writes about his childhood with grace and ease. Readers are catapulted into his large Irish family in 1959 from the first sentence onward.

Peter Sheridan is a good Irish boy who enjoys school and loves the hectic life Dublin offers. His best friend, Andy, hates school but loves traipsing around the city in search of fortune.

The two boys influence each other in both good and bad ways - Andy gets involved with the church after a stint in reform school, and Peter learns to stand up for himself. In the end though, Andy remains the rogue and Peter the goody-two-shoes.

A steady presence throughout the book is Peter's Da. The man has his own outhouse in the garage, preaches to his family like they are his disciples and relies on his wins at the horse races as a major means of income.

Peter is his Da's helper and is ordered to do just about every imaginable task - from climbing up an ariel on the roof to fix the TV's reception to digging holes in the garage to fix water pressure.

When Peter's brother, Frankie, falls ill, their Da finds himself unable to cope. Peter tries to fill in for his father and be someone for his mother to rely on. After his father regains his strength, he and Peter find their friendship stronger.

Peter also runs errands all over the city and helps out with the tenants his parents have taken in.

One of these boarders, Mossie, plays a crucial role in Peter's life. Mossie robs Peter of his innocence, terrifies and scars him so deeply that Peter withdraws inwardly. Unable to find comfort, Peter then seeks solace at the hands of the church.

Illness and deaths make Peter grow up quickly and 44 Dublin Made Me documents his maturation. Andy gets a girl "in trouble" and quickly marries to take responsibility for the situation. As his world changes, Peter adapts.

Sheridan's strength is that he writes his story, which could be sad, as hopeful and happy. Rather than just have stories from his childhood strung together as some memoirs do, 44 Dublin Made Me creates a touching story.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Lines Are So Fine
When you read a McCourt memoir you read of bleak reality, a reality rarely tempered with happiness much less joy. There is humor, however of the sort that more often increases your respect for those who are able to find humor where few could even imagine it. At times the light moments are not so light, just bright in comparison to what you have read. At the other end there is Brendan O'Carroll and his trilogy of, "The Mammy", "The Chisellers", and "The Granny". This is fiction and it is outrageously funny, so much so that when there is a tragic event the pain you feel from laughing often tempers the darker moments. And then there is Peter Sheridan's work, "44 Dublin Made Me". And this work lies somewhere between the two others I have mentioned.

I enjoyed the book a great deal. At times it is almost a hybrid of the other three Authors I mention, for even though it is a memoir and does contain painful events, they are not as painfully presented as I think they need to be for readers. I am in no manner diminishing the pain of the Sheridan Family; I am expressing a writing issue, or perhaps a stylistic point.

There seem to be more of these Irish Memoirs as of late, and as they have been widely read, they by definition either create or reinforce notions people may have already brought to the book. The issue that I struggled with was the manner in which some material was presented, some was absolutely funny, and other issues were anything but humorous. I don't believe they ever can be humorous. And this is the part of the book that failed for me. The writing was a bit too neat and slick for want of a better word. The experiences of a young child read as an accomplished Author had written them rather than a talented writer bringing the thoughts of a young man across as a child may view them, but as an adult would read them.

The book is very good and it's one I would recommend. I felt it worth noting that the story of any country or the people that live there can become a commodity. I don't believe that to be the case with this book, but I feel the first steps on a slippery slope are waiting to be trod upon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Laugh, Cry and read it again
As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it. I have had a childhood in the very same area and was plesantley surprised at the vivid and colourful language used to describe the landscapes and lifestyles I know so so well. I laughed out loud even though everybody on the train thought I was a bit of an idiot. I cryed many tears onto the pages which are now all tattered and dog eared from use. I sympathised and identified with the characters which came to life between the pages. I have pursuaded family and friends to read it and everyone has loved it. It's the best book I have read this year (I read a lot! ) I cant wait for the next one, hurry up Peter! Get that book to press.

But one piece of advice. Don't keep other Irish books such as Angela's Ashes in mind as they are each so brilliantley different. Experiance the writer's language of experiance and not your perception of an Irish childhood. Revel in the individuallity of this book and you will enjoy it all the more.

Buy it and enjoy it forever ... Read more

125. Mourning a Father Lost: A Kibbutz Childhood Remembered : A Kibbutz Childhood Remembered
by Avraham Balaban
list price: $21.95
our price: $21.95
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Asin: 0742529223
Catlog: Book (2003-12-28)
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Sales Rank: 714725
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Book Description

Returning to the kibbutz of his childhood to attend his father's funeral, Avraham Balaban confronts his still intensely painful childhood memories. With a poet's keen voice, the author weaves together two interrelated stories: a sensitive artist growing up in the intensely pragmatic world of Kibbutz Huldah and the rise and fall of a grand yet failed social experiment. As he moves through the seven days of sitting shivah for his father, Balaban experiences an expanding cycle of mourning-for self, family, the kibbutz, and Israel itself. He pens a poignant, frank portrait of the emotional damage wrought by the kibbutz educational system, which separated children from their parents. Indeed, he realizes that he is mourning not the physical death of his father, but the much earlier death of the father-child bond. Readers will see the kibbutz movement, and Israel in general, with new eyes after finishing this book. Visit our website for sample chapters! ... Read more

126. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
by Alexandra Fuller
list price: $24.99
our price: $16.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1402590407
Catlog: Book (2004-04)
Publisher: Recorded Books
Sales Rank: 426689
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127. Listening for the Crack of Dawn (American Storytelling (Paperback))
by Donald Davis
list price: $21.05
our price: $21.05
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Asin: 0785727051
Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
Publisher: Rebound by Sagebrush
Sales Rank: 791055
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, transporting tales from a brilliant storyteller
These stories get played on every long car ride our family makes, and all of us (from the first grader on up) are rapt.Davis uses his gentle voice and sly humor to paint unforgettable portraits of beloved relatives, local eccentrics, and lost friends.The stories are fresh and moving each time we hear them; in fact, the repeated listenings increase our appreciation for the mastery of Davis' telling.

This is family entertainment of the highest order.

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite audiobook of all time
I don't think anyone can listen to Donald Davis tell his Different Drummer story and not be touched by it.Just it alone is worth the price of the set of cassettes.You also get to hear LSMFT (yes, that's the title of the story), which has a nearly perfect ending.Each is a story so good that you wish you could forget it, so that you'd have the pleasure of listening to it again for the first time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Donald Davis is a Great Storyteller!
Listening to the story is better than reading it.His accent and voice make the vivid stories come alive.His stories, about growing up in western North Carolina are nostalgic, yet the issues will appeal to anyone of any age.My children 9 and 15 love his tapes along with my 70 year old parents.He is one of our favorite people to listen to in the car on trips.

5-0 out of 5 stars Donald Davis is wonderful`
I have read and listened to several of Donald Davis' books.He is the best story teller I have ever listened to.He makes you laugh, cry and remember.I encourage anyone who loves to hear a good yarn, listen to any of D. Davis's works.He is awesome.

5-0 out of 5 stars Donald Davis--Storyteller Extrordinaire!
I am buying Donald Davis' cassette, "THE CRACK OF DAWN" for the second time.I owned my first copy for many years until by stereo was stolen from my car and had Mr. Davis' tape in it.I had the privilege of meeting him at a storytelling festival at Cal State University, Los Angeles and heard this story in person.It is every bit as good on tape.Mr. Davis spins his yarn in such a mesmerizing way that you can almost see his Aunt Laura and hear the "Crack of Dawn." ... Read more

128. A Bag of Marbles
by Joseph Joffo
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0226400697
Catlog: Book (2001-01-15)
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Sales Rank: 133079
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Joseph Joffo was ten years old, his father gave him and his brother fifty francs and instructions to flee Nazi-occupied Paris and, somehow, get to the south where France was free. Previously out of print, this book is a captivating and memorable story; readers will instinctively find themselves rooting for these children caught in the whirlwind of World War II.

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Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars what does a bag of marbles have to do with the story?
A bag of marbles was pretty good. If you are looking for an educational book about wwII and want to escape the gore, this is the book for you. It gets a little slow, but you really do find yourself caring for theses two boys. Plus, it is non-fiction.

3-0 out of 5 stars Un sac de billes.
The story is about two young boys : Joe and Maurice, they are French and Jews, it's in Paris during world War 2. So they must avoid. they went to the south, near the Italian border.
The story is touching and well writing, but sometimes it's very boring, because there isn't a lot of action.

5-0 out of 5 stars The author succeeds at leaving a moving testimonial...
Kudos to the translator for keeping the author's words & spirit in tact in this heroic and moving testimonial about what it took to survive the Holocaust & what we all must do to keep other holocausts from happening again. In his own words, "be brave, know how to take care of yourself, don't rely on others, don't let your emotions get the better of you, take responsibility." Clearly, this title is a story that will encourage & remind young readers to always remember and to take responsibility.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book of exceptional beauty
This is a beautiful book that tells the true story of two young Jewish boys on the run from the Gestapo in war-torn France. The author, Joseph Joffo is never nostalgic about the ordeal he and his brother went through in their bid to escape the Death Camps of Nazi Germany. He writes from the heart but he writes with purpose. His story is a warning to future generations never to take their lives for granted. A Bag of Marbles is a fantastic book that should be on the shelves of every school in the world, just to remind future generations that life is not always a bed of roses...

5-0 out of 5 stars Riviting, capturing, A Real Page Turner
this book made me want to read more. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. You are really rooting for the boys to come out of this entire oredeal alright.+ ... Read more

129. Red Hook: Confessions of a Brooklyn Eaglet, 1939-1955
by Richard Gambino
list price: $10.00
our price: $10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 155071189X
Catlog: Book (2005-03)
Publisher: Guernica Editions Inc.
Sales Rank: 883744
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Book Description

Red Hook

Confessions of a Brooklyn Eaglet: 1939-1955

With Richard Gambino's Red Hook (Confessions of a Brooklyn Eaglet: 1939-1955) Guernica Editions is proud to inaugurate its newest series, the City Series. Red Hook is a humorous, poignant, whimsical account of growing up in a long-ago neighbourhood which was as improbable a place as any one might imagine. Jumping back and forth from one age to another, it is presented through the eyes of a boy as he lived and saw life there. Red Hook describes experiences which would not ordinarily be associated with living in New York, or any other large city. Through anecdote and humour the author sets out to explain how he learned to see life, and what formed him as a writer.

Richard Gambino grew up in Red Hook, Brooklyn. ... Read more

130. Trains of Thought : Paris to Omaha Beach, Memories of a Wartime Youth
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400034035
Catlog: Book (2004-03-09)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 421453
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Paris in the 1930s—melancholy, erotic, intensely politicized—provides the poetic beginning for this remarkable autobiography by one of America's most renowned literary scholars. Victor Brombert recaptures the story of his youth in a Proustian reverie—his protective mother, his first ill-fated romantic liaisons, his passionate love of trains—that vividly recalls his privileged upbringing in Paris's 16th arrondissement. With an ineffable combination of humor and tenderness, he recalls the terrifying onset of the Vichy regime, the family's dramatic flight from Nazi-controlled Europe, his wartime participation in American military intelligence at Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge, and his eventual discovery of his scholarly vocation. Riveting yet poignant, shimmering yet tragic, Trains of Thought is a virtuosic accomplishment, a coming-of-age story that is likely to become a classic account of memory and experience. 20 b/w photographs. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars A Train Wreck
How could a book writen by a good writer and a interesting man, with great subjects, books, history, education, ever be so boring? If this is what memoirs have come down to they need to be outlawed. I understand that writing about oneself is difficult indeed, and very few have pulled it off, but this is brutal. This gets my worse book of the year award. 0 stars

5-0 out of 5 stars Staggering and illuminating
Books, education, thinking, and even history itself, have been collectively buried under. There is too much undifferentiated mush, a constant rush of gabbing plenty at the beleaguered individual. From under the rubble comes Victor Brombert's valiant memoir, a classic of pinpoint remembrance, a fully humane celebration of the potency of, well, something or other. For "Trains of Thought" is profoundly self-deprecating, a miraculous occurence for a fully vested professor of the highest rank. Brombert's magisterial touch with the very act of writing brings the proper lighting to every cinematic scene. "Trains of Thought" is a gift to succeeding generations, to the remaining intelligentsia, and to states whose recent horrid past is so little understood. Scholarly work on World War II, filling ocean tankers by now, cannot approach the vivid yet conflicted remembrances of a participant/onlooker. Surely there is an element of delusion in Brombert's infatuation with the representations of high culture as they apply to immense political events, but all human affairs are conducted with such vainglorious positionings. This is a towering memoir, in a almost literal sense - humanity has the chance, through this book, to look down upon the events of those times, and see what it couldn't see before: itself. Families. Schools. Boys and girls. Social events. Mass political insanity. Fathers and mothers. Death. Survival. ... Read more

131. Better Than Sane: Tales from a Dangling Girl
list price: $23.00
our price: $15.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400041244
Catlog: Book (2004-05-04)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 313914
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A BOOK THAT I LOVE
As a longtime admirer of Alison Rose's pieces in The New Yorker, her Talk of the Town stories and profiles, over many years, I am so happy she has written Better than Sane: Tales from a Dangling Girl, a book that I love. I read it in one sitting. There is a nobility about Rose's story, a life spent in search of a direction for her singular and considerable gifts. When Rose writes about the characters whom she loves and who love her back, she writes with such style and wit and self-awareness that many of her sentences will stay with me for a long, long time. A
great chapter is a road trip that Alison and her mentor and friend, George, take through the South. It made me cry. Another favorite is a romantic and sexy description of an affectionate lover: "It seemed to me he brought the highest reverence -- a sort of tactile worship -- to being up close to another person." If any reader has doubted herself, she will find comfort and reassurance in Alison Rose's spectacularly well-written first book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A BRAND NEW VOICE IN THE WORLD
Alison Rose's Better than Sane: Tales from a Dangling Girl
changed my life in the same way J.D.Salinger's Catcher in the Rye did when I was a teen-ager. Without Holden Caulfield, I don't know how I would have survived mean friends in highschool, my brothers, my parents, and all the rest. Now, in my thirties, I feel the same way about Alison Rose. Her writing is a brand new voice in the world; truthful, singular, witty. The way she writes about her friendships throughout the book (in both California and New York), and particularly with the writers at The New Yorker,"a tribe of Gods," who helped her to become herself and to become a writer, has given me strength. Alison Rose has taught me not to give up. Better Than Sane is a great story.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money buying this book.
This books makes me ashamed that I am a white female. Alison Rose is the most vapid foolish sycophant little rich girl imaginable. There is not one funny or witty remark in this book. I don't know what she means by being insane. Perhaps she does have schizophrenia. That might be a reason for her super dull behavior. She zeros in on men who have some sort of fame: Burt Lancaster's son, a mnor film celebrity, several New Yorker writers and then debases herself and flatters them endlessly until they submit to her company but some how she cannot even tell us why they are interesting to others. She copies down the most banal things they say. I see on the book jacket that now she occasionally writes for Vogue. She is not employed by the New Yorker and was briefly a receptionist there. Her 94 year old mother should have written the book. Alison's father was correct about her from the start. But instead of a psycho, she's a sycophant.

5-0 out of 5 stars a great writer
alison rose has been one of the best things going in new york for some time. she has had great and talented friends, such as harold brodkey and george trow, and she learned something from everyone she met, but she has come up with a voice and a story and a way that is completely her own and completely riveting and new. in my opinion, this book will go from friend to friend until it becomes a classic. ... Read more

132. Go Ask Ogre : Letters from a Deathrock Cutter
by Jolene Siana
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
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Asin: 0976082217
Catlog: Book (2005-05-15)
Publisher: Process
Sales Rank: 338358
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Book Description

Go Ask Ogre peers into the world of a misfit "cutter" teen, who, with devastating honesty and deadpan humor, illustrates the horrors of her life and rises above them through confessional letters to the singer of her favorite band.

Passionate, artistic and sensitive, Jolene Siana lived on the impoverished side of the tracks in Toledo, Ohio, with an alcoholic and abusive single mother. At a time when Reagan and heavy metal ruled the Midwest, Jolene's only comfort was found through writing, drawing and immersing herself in a growing post-punk/industrial music scene. A tailspin of suicidal depression and self-injury led her to write Ogre, the frontman for the band Skinny Puppy. He soon began to receive a flood of illustrated letters and journals filled with Jolene's most intimate thoughts.

At a concert, Ogre told Jolene that he saved all her letters and one day would return them. Nine years later, two boxes from Ogre arrived at Jolene's door. Re-examining the documents of her youth was a revelation. She realized that expressing herself through these letters had saved her life.

Go Ask Ogre reveals the truth about growing up "weird" in the 1980s, offering an inspiring update to the traditional teen cautionary tale-this time, a happy ending.

I almost killed myself.
I cut my wrists. I can't take this anymore.
I came home from school to find that my mother scattered my belongings in my room. Why? Because she's sick! She went on about how I'm no good, stupid, etc, and that she wants me out. She started hitting me so I went into my room and shut my door but she opened it and continued to hit me.
I started to go crazy.She left my room and I just started crying and couldn't stop. I found my razor blades. I cut my wrist just enough for it to bleed. I wanted to be able to dig the blade into my arm but I kept crying. I wanted to die so badly. I wanted to bleed. I needed someone. I went to meet Anthony but I missed him so I walked around looking insane. I could smell the flowers at my funeral but I couldn't see anyone.
If you think I'm trying to get you to write back by telling you about my attempt of suicide you're mistaken. I need to let m ... Read more

133. Hitler Youth to U.S. Citizen
by Friedrich Neuhaus
list price: $15.00
our price: $15.00
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Asin: 1411626524
Catlog: Book (2005-03)
Publisher: Lulu Press
Sales Rank: 719453
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Book Description

This book describes the life of a German boy who was born before Hitler came to power.He experienced the years before the Second World War as a young child in Germany where he was trained to become one of the future members of the Nazi party.After the Second World War his life was shattered because all that he had known so far crumbled.In the USA he learned, for the first time in his life, what freedom really meant.Now, having experienced life under a dictatorship and then within a true democracy, he describes his impressions gained over all these years.He forms his own opinion why the Second World War was started and why it came to such a devastating conclusion.His opinion, which he draws from his life’s experience, is described in this book and it is interwoven with individual detailed personal episodes. From his life during the war, he concludes that the West could have finished the war much earlier by allowing Hitler to capitulate, thereby preventing the many deaths and the terrible devastation of Europe.In his opinion, the British and certain minority groups in the States were more interested in revenge than to establish peace in Europe.This book exposes for the first time the mind of a young boy who lived under the Nazis and from this viewpoint has formed his own opinion about the Second World War and its atrocities.Many personal stories illustrate his life as a Hitler Youth and later his worldwide travel for an American company. ... Read more

134. Stolen Innocence : Triumphing Over a Childhood Broken by Abuse: A Memoir
by Erin Merryn
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0757302823
Catlog: Book (2005-01-01)
Publisher: HCI
Sales Rank: 127197
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Book Description

Eleven-year-old Erin Myrren's life was transformed on the night she was sexually abused by her cousin, someone she loved and trusted. As the abuse continued, and as she was forced to see her abuser over and over again in social situations, she struggled with self-doubt, panic attacks, nightmares and the weight of whether or not to tell her terrible secret. It wasn't until a traumatic series of events showed her the cost of silence that she chose to speak out-in the process destroying both her family and the last of her innocence.

Through her personal diary, written during the years of her abuse, Erin Myrren shares her journey through pain and confusion to inner strength and, ultimately, forgiveness. Raw, powerful and unflinchingly honest, Stolen Innocence is the inspiring story of one girl's struggle to become a woman, and a bright light on the pain and devastation of abuse.

Stolen Innocence is written with conviction and clarity. [Erin Myrren] doesn't hold back, and I respect her honesty and openness...By the end of the book, I thought I was reading passages from a much older adult than a high school senior. Erin has grown into a strong, wise, intelligent, perceptive, spiritual, caring adult."
--Susan Reedquist, The Children's Advocacy Center

... Read more

135. Pagan Time: An American Childhood
by Micah Perks
list price: $23.00
our price: $23.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582431477
Catlog: Book (2001-09)
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Sales Rank: 522416
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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It's always a pleasure to read a memoir about the 1960s that doesn't rationalize or recriminate but instead concentrates on conveying the texture of those wild times. Micah Perks's matter-of-fact re-creation of her counterculture childhood makes it clear that living without rules had severe consequences, but she also captures the anarchic pleasures of that life. Perks was 6 weeks old in 1963 when her parents borrowed $20,000 to buy 550 acres of land in the Adirondacks and establish the Valley Commune School. They took in troubled teens referred by the courts and children disabled by mental illness, aiming to help them grow up "free from the suffocating values of mainstream society." "We're changing the established order," her charismatic, feckless father asserted, handing out guns to juvenile delinquents and organizing a "war" between Romans and Celts in which the retreating Romans set fire to a pagan shrine. Micah's best friend, she learned 20 years later, was sexually abused by an older boy and his girlfriend; her father slept with students and virtually any other woman he ran across; in retaliation her mother began an affair with the man who would eventually become her lifelong partner. Readers may well be horrified by the grownups' abdication of responsibility, but Perks herself is unfazed by the vagaries of human nature and seems to bear no grudge, though her adult attitude toward her parents is wary. "That was the best part of my life," she concludes, adding in a properly parenthetical aside: "(best is not quite accurate, but I don't know what other word to use)." Judging by her scrupulous, evenhanded narrative, we can guess that for all the terror and uncertainty she endured, she values her childhood for the intensity and honesty she experienced watching a bunch of principled misfits live their convictions. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely
I came across this book by accident when I happened to walk into a bookstore just as Micah was doing a reading and booksigning. I was immediately taken by the stories of her unusual childhood and ended up buying the book and reading it several times. It's filled with love, tragedy, and a lot of wild characters. Perfect for anyone who's familiar with alternative lifestyles, or just interested.

4-0 out of 5 stars fine memoir style and subject matter: hippie communes
Micah Perks' strategy is to write a present tense memory narrative of her youth in Vermont where she witnesses the folly of hippy commune living and her father's tyrannical moral relativism, which he uses to justify a rather Billy Goat existence, at the expense of his wife. Perks never preaches, analyzes, or tells us much. Instead, she narrates strings and strings of memories. The only problem with this approach is that there is not much dramatic tension, no roller coaster ride, but a sort of flat line throughout the 160-page book. However, her style and language are sharp and immaculate.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Memoir
Whenever I crack open a memoir, I'm worried that it's going to be one of those naval-gazing autobiographies that will serve to distinguish our generation of American writers by our wholehearted lack of self-consciousness about how insignificant we really are. I have this vision of memoir (with its better potential for prurient scandal and book sales) sucking away the creative lives of writers, luring them from the greater art of writing that more tenuous form of autobiography known as fiction. Occasionally, I am forced to abandon this prejudice, when I stumble on a memoir like Natalie Kusz's ROAD SONG, or Paul Auster's INVENTION OF SOLITUDE: I'll see a portrait of character so carefully drafted, so astute, so detailed, so true, that it astonishes me. I feel the memoir's characters standing behind me, breathing over my shoulder as I read, more real than life, bigger even than their own lives.

PAGAN TIME is such a memoir. The character at the heart of this book is the narrator's father, co-founder of a '60's Utopian collective and a school for schizophrenic and delinquent teenagers. This is a man who moves his family to an isolated spot in the Adirondacks, imports a handful of disturbed and dangerous adolescents into their midst, and proceeds to live in a world governed by alliance with or against his boisterous, lawless character. His force of personality allows him to persuade whole groups of teenage delinquents, grown men and his own children to dress up as Romans and Celts fighting battles in the woods; to chant and sing at overnight pig roasts; to orchestrate a flower-child wedding with himself and nine boys decked in eighteenth-century Royal Navy uniforms offering a ten-gun salutes with muskets.

Perks's father's spontaneity, energy and ingenuity allow him to recreate life as he goes along - to build a world not just big enough for himself but also for those around him - and one which, ultimately, provides perfect camouflage for a person who may be no more than an ephemeral and shadowy personality, a trick of mirrors, a man with a slim conscience and the most fragile ability to form lasting connections with any other person, including his wives, lovers and children. Perks's memoir unravels with a Great Gatsby-like elegance, an agile sleight of hand - its conclusion reminds me more than anything of Henry Gatz's arrival at his son's wake, to tell us all about the other Gatsby. PAGAN TIME Time leaves you just as unsure about who its central character might really be - when, for example, he faces the reader and narrator recreated as a butler who lives as a parody and embodiment of all the rules of civilization , a butler who, with a wonderful twistiness, pronounces himself a Buddhist who "does not cling." It is in the final few encounters with him and with his family and their spare words about him, that he emerges as whole and wholly believable.

Perks writes with such a clear eye - without self-pity or self-importance, without moralizing conclusions, with a lively sense of curiosity about life and people. This is a smart, novel portrayal of fatherhood and father-daughter relations, and an exuberant portrait of the world of the sixties as well. The memoir's energetic writing sustains the reader right to the end, and every passage is deft - at times exhilaratingly dramatic, at times breathtakingly spare. ... Read more

136. The Blessing: A Memoir
by Gregory Orr
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1571781110
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Council Oak Books
Sales Rank: 328535
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Critically acclaimed poet Gregory Orr’s memoir of his tragic boyhood and ultimate redemption

Filled with the spare and moving language that marks Gregory Orr’s most affecting poems, The Blessing explores themes of personal tragedy and atonement, trauma and reconciliation. Orr’s ability to give voice to the feelings that are hardest to put into words makes his story unforgettable, mesmerizing reading.

The blood that would first stain Orr’s childhood was spilled the year he was twelve. In that autumn, Gregory Orr shot his brother to death in a hunting accident. In this spare and poignant memoir, he tells how this horrific event shaped his life. Against backdrops of the rural Hudson Valley, a remote charity hospital in the jungles of Haiti, and the Deep South of the civil rights era where he marched and bled with other youthful demonstrators, Orr articulates his journey in a language as sharp-edged and authentic as the experiences themselves.

At his brother’s funeral, he saw ". . . that death was with us. It was the small white snail of wadded Kleenex my mother kept pressing against her face; it was nibbling holes in her cheek as if it were a leaf." No comfort would come from Orr’s beloved though distant mother or his father, a quixotic country doctor addicted to amphetamines. He would have to make sense of life’s inchoate forces on his own. Eventually, his experiences would lead him to an unexpected epiphany and a clear answer to one of life’s basic questions: How do we find meaning in the face of death? ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful
Orr's book is an amazing chronicle of his early years, and an essential window into how art - in this case poetry - can play an important role in survival and transformation. The writing is clear and forceful. Highly recommended for anyone interested in memoir. ... Read more

137. Road to Nab End: A Lancashire Childhood
by William Woodruff
list price: $19.90
our price: $13.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1561310697
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: New Amsterdam Books
Sales Rank: 430651
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Praise From A Lancashire Lass
This story had a special significance for me as the author's hometown, Blackburn, is also my hometown. He was 7 years younger than my father although they attended the same school. However, I am certain the book will be enjoyed by many people who do not have that same personal connection.
It is beautifully written, with the historical content merging skillfully into the story of family life.
The book will be of particular interest to anyone who grew up in an industrial area, not just in Britain; to Americans and Canadians who can trace their families back to the mill-towns of Lancashire or Yorkshire; to anyone who finds the 1900-1930 period fascinating; to anyone who remembers their own family's struggles against adversity, and to anyone who enjoyed Angela's Ashes - but would prefer a more down-to earth story with fewer funerals!

4-0 out of 5 stars Nab End Review
As a British ex-pat with a Yorkshire childhood, I found the book well written and containing a great deal of relevant North Country social history (1916 to 1933). The only distractions were the frequently used Americanism, sidewalk (pavement)and while the book emphasized a lack of education for working class children generalizations such as,"Every Lancashire child know that Chester means the site of a Roman Camp." The word "Charabanc" meaning a tour bus, was, and is, commonly used in the UK. The author spelled the word "Sharabang" (which is how the word sounds)to describe the same vehicle. I have been unable to find the word sharabang in the Oxford dictionary. These were minor irritants in an otherwise fascinating family history.

4-0 out of 5 stars If you have never been there, you now know it
This is a wonderful book which, as an Anglophile, I loved reading. Just a word to those who feel it some of the terms are American. Remember, please, that the author is now living in the US, and new terms become automatically one's own after a while. And yes, there is a sequel to this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars superb book-leaves you wanting more
William Woodruff and I have something in common; we were both born and reared poor in Lancashire, doubly lucky as Mr Woodruff puts it. The book itself is a reader, you pick it up and you can't put it down. There is always something else you want to read in the next chapter. It is a shame the book had an ending to it as it leaves you wanting more.

Like one of the other reviewers I was a bit disappointed when the text was dumbed down, probably for our American cousins, as little discrepancies showed through the text. For instance, stating ten pennies instead of ten pence (we would have said it 'tenpunce') and the absolute glaring mistake of calling a tanner 6p when it should have been 6d and a dodger is 3d not 3p. Little details like this tend to eat at me.

The book was easy to read and if you know a little about Lancashire, specifically Blackburn, you will find it fascinating.

Tim Brimelow 19 May 2003

5-0 out of 5 stars Bill, You Really Told It!
Forget ANGELA'S ASHES. THE ROAD TO NAB END is less bleak, it is witty and relieved by warmth and humor. The story of a city boy, born in the mill and growing up in grinding poverty is relieved by an unsentimental irreverence for conventional piety, enlivened by his forays into the gentle Lancashire countryside, the love of family and an impossible teenage romance.Bill Woodruff tells it as it was. I know because I was there. Although we both found our way to America, Blackburn of the 20's and 30's is indelibly printed on our souls. ... Read more

138. Village of the Small Houses: A Memoir of Sorts
by Ian Ferguson
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1553650697
Catlog: Book (2004-10-10)
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Sales Rank: 538519
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Book Description

In 1959, just one step ahead of the law, Ian Ferguson's parents left the sophisticated big-city life of Edmonton for Fort Vermilion - once a fur-trapping frontier town, now a remote aboriginal settlement in northernmost Alberta. There, Ian and his six brothers and sisters grew up without indoor plumbing, electricity, central heating, or even a radio. Beginning with the dramatic events surrounding his birth (including a paddlewheel ferry heading for destruction, a legendary rowboat trip, and a life-and-death race against time), the richly recalled events of Ferguson's life and a vivid array of characters make for a taut and appealingly idiosyncratic tale. ... Read more

139. A Nearly Normal Life : A Memoir
by Mee
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316558362
Catlog: Book (2000-02-09)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 447694
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"During the early fifties, nothing seemed impossible. Therewasn't a problem that couldn't be solved, an enemy that couldn't be licked, a dream that couldn't be achieved. America believed this, and so did fourteen-year-old Charles Mee.

A boy from a small Midwestern town, Mee believed in God, family, and his future, which, at the very least, included girls and a long spell as a hometown football hero. It wasn't until he collapsed one night at a dance that those dreams vanished.

Polio was every American parent's nightmare; it struck ruthlessly every summer, and the fear of it was pervasive. Aside from Communism, polio was the great enemy- a rampant, contagious epidemic. Bizarre treatments emerged, and victims were subjected to pointless, painful therapies. Stories of children who, refusing to give up, conquered the disease by sheer willpower abounded. But most couldn't get much better and suffered the disappointing chill of doctors and families alike.

Mee emerged from near death confronted by an enormous life change that challenged all the institutions he believed in. He was forced to redefine himself - a task requiring constant subterfuge. He was almost the same person as before; he was nearly normal. Through voracious reading, Mee discovered his intellectual precocity and his status as an outsider. Ultimately, he rejected the beliefs of his father, causing a lifelong estrangement.

Polio has been a journey that brought Charles Mee to places he would never have otherwise gone - and to where he stands today. His consciousness as a man and a writer began the night he collapsed. In beautiful prose, he unravels the mysteries of his Cold War youth, voicing the mind of a child with a potentially fatal disease and of a man whose recognition of himself as a disabled outsider heightens his brilliance as a storyteller." ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Five stars are not enough...
I don't write many reviews anymore, who has time? However, this book stood out so much above the rest I've read lately that I just had to share. The book is about a polio survivor, the 50's, the discovery of the vaccine and oh so much more. It's about living the life you were handed, not the want you thought you were going to get.

His epilogue is pure poetry. An example: "Life continues to change. New things surface; old wounds hidden by bigger wounds show up when the bigger wounds are healed; new clusters of misgivings and confusion take shape to replace old clusters of exhausted adjustments. New things come along to be accepted with grace and peace. The disability and its challenges continue to evolve, and one must achieve acceptance and grace and peace again and again, day after day."

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I read about 5 books a week and this book is in my top 20 of all time.

3-0 out of 5 stars Read This Book-- It's Good.
No matter how great a person's chances are of getting ill or injured, everybody always thinks "it's never going to happen to me." Charles L. Mee was no different than everybody else in the 1950s who thought that they would not get polio; he thought that it would be somebody else who would catch the disease. In his touching and witty memoir, A Nearly Normal Life, Mee tells of his arduous struggle to overcome his devastating case of polio during his teenage years; Mee was one of the millions who were afflicted with spinal polio during the epidemic of the 1950s. The author vividly recounts his battle against paralysis and death, as well as his endeavor to recover and return to the normalcy that the 1950s culture emphasized. Not only does the memoir give the reader a lucid and detailed picture of the Eisenhower years, but it is also a reflective essay about America in the 1950s, polio,and the American culture that relentlessly advocated the idea of being "normal." For those of us who did not live through the fifties, A Nearly Normal Life provides a good description of what life was like for the average middle-class American family.

5-0 out of 5 stars A nearly perfect book
Until his 14th summer, Charles Mee's world seemed safe and unshakable --- secure in a small Midwestern town, surrounded by a loving family, winning praise for his athletic prowess and on the verge of getting his first kiss. And then, suddenly, everything changed. Mee's exposure to the polio virus didn't just infect him --- it profoundly altered his reality, forever changing his perceptions of himself, his family and the way the world works. In this beautiful, heartbreaking tale, Mee poignantly recounts the story of the sick, lonely, frightened child he was and his transformation to the man he is today --- brilliant, creative, funny and "nearly normal."

5-0 out of 5 stars A personal story attesting to the indomitable human spirit.
In the early fifties, polio was every parent's nightmare. Each summer it struck ruthlessly, killing and maiming children without warning. The virus "stripped away from the nerves their myelin sheath, which acts like insulation around an electric cord, so that the nerves short-circuited, sizzled, and died. they stopped sending signals to the muscles, and so the muscles stopped working. Arms and legs lay limp and useless." It was a vastly misunderstood disease which prompted treatments often painful and sometimes bizarre. Patients were covered in hot, wet blankets, stimulated by electric shock, immersed in boiling hot tubs, subjected to experimental surgeries, and imprisoned in iron lung machines. Hospitals sometimes had 60 children in iron lungs at one time jammed into one ward room. Charles Mee's account of the disease which irrevocably altered his life is both intriguing and horrifying, but always inspiring. An athlete as a teenager, he was forced to redefine himself. He emerged from a near-death experience to discover an intellectuality in himself which might never have been realized. The book is a personal story which attests to the indomitable human spirit, but it is also an absorbing account of a gruesome chapter in medical history. ... Read more

140. The Tiger Ladies: A Memoir of Kashmir (Bluestreak)
by Sudha Koul
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0807059196
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: Beacon Press
Sales Rank: 514835
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The first memoir about a woman"s experience in Kashmir, one of the most volatile and alluring places on the globe This is a magical memoir of a land now consumed by political and religious turmoil, a richly detailed story of a girl"s passage into maturity, marriage, and motherhood in the midst of an
exquisite and fragile world that will never be entirely the same.

"For those who only associate Kashmir with the violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, Koul"s lovely, elegiac memoir The Tiger Ladies shows that the isolated vale in the Himalayas was a heaven before it became a hell."
—Bryan Walsh, Time ASIA

"This magical, sensuous memoir . . . casts its quiet spell over the reader. The writing is so evocative that you feel you are there, seeing, tasting, touching, and smelling this once enchanted place."
—Scotia W. MacCrae, Philadelphia Inquirer

"The Tiger Ladies is immensely, gracefully sad, an elegy for the customs and the courtliness of an irrecoverable civilization. Yet there is a sensuality running through her story . . . provided by Ms. Koul"s devotion to Kashmiri cuisine and her description of how she has, through her kitchen, sought to keep alive the old Kashmiri ways."
—Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal

Sudha Koul is author of Curries without Worries and Come with Me to India: On a Wondrous Voyage through Time. She lives in New Jersey with her family.
... Read more

Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting nuances of life in Kashmir
A good read for second generation Kashmiri Americans.The details were of interest, since of course its a world that Kashmiri-Americans of second generation will not get a chance to see.It's the kind of book I'd like to read with a Kashmiri close at hand to find out if the details are authentic (and not catered to the audience), and the experience universal. A unique find, though, since it's unclear how many books can tackle life in Himalayan valleys from the inside.Validates that Kashmiri pandits deserve and need to contribute to their own body of literature, write their own histories rather than relinquish that right to historians.

5-0 out of 5 stars Koul writer of the Kashmir Soul
A beautifully written book of the Kashmir valley before the invasion of the Mujahadin and other Muslim terrorist actions from outside the peaceful valley of peaceful coexistence amongst the Kashmiri Hindus and Kashmiri Muslims. Ms. Koul, a former Indian majistrate with a Masters in Political Science from India writes a book for her children to learn of the beautiful life in Kashmir where young soon to be bethrothed women view Pashmina wool embroidered shawl samples dating back 100 years. The samples are easily viewed and ordered from the Kashmiri Muslim merchant who then continues the Pashmina relationship with the daughter or granddaughter's trousseau.
Ms. Koul effectly evokes a resplendant memoir without the heavy hand of serious political analysis which tends to be dry and flacid. A life too beautiful, too luscious, too happy, too comfortable to notice the cloak of darkness that would envelope paradise.
After attending her reading and purchasing Tiger Ladies, I am excited to add it to my collection of important soul books: The Red Tent, Woman Warrier, Autobiography of a Yogi and Facing Two Ways. Kashmir may be a memory of what once existed in a valley of Lotus eaters yet Ms. Koul's book concludes with a simile in the complacency of life in the US where life too is too comfortable, too beautiful, and perhaps too happy for Americans. (Incidentally written before 9.11.2001.) Which perhaps helps us to realize that there is yet another cloak of darkness enveloping us called American corporate imperialism ...product invasion via Hollywood, gasoline consumption, mass consumerism of junk products, junk food, junk tv, junk religion, junk politicians and the reaction against it by the Mujahadins of the Muslim world. Now in paperback form, this book is a respite from the propaganda on evening news in America.

4-0 out of 5 stars Haunting and beautiful memoir
A lovely and bittersweet memoir of Koul's life in paradise, the Kashmir region of India. It's a tale of a lost way of life in a region that has been sundered by strife, conflict, and ultimately war between India and Pakistan, Hindus and Muslims.
Of especial interest is the reverence in which women of the region were held - in a country in which women are often no more than chattel. The Tiger Ladies is a book rich in sensual detail, a book people can enjoy on many levels: as travel literature, as a cultural study, for the descriptions of the food - and most of all as a loving and haunting memoir of a time and place that no longer exist.

4-0 out of 5 stars a Paradise Lost to war
In Sudha Koul's beautifully written memoir of her youth and young adulthood in Kashmir, she brings the reader a vivid sense of her wonderful years spent there, and the bittersweet memories she revisits upon her return to a war-torn nation. Not having known much about the regional conflict, this book helped me understand who the people of the Kashmiri valley are today, and who they were before conflict came to rule their daily lives.

Ms. Koul's many stories of her grandmother, Danna, are a touching tribute to her grandmother's memory. Danna had her own particular ways of running her household. Many of these traditions have been passed down from mother to daughter through several generations. It is this sense of continuity from which the author draws her resolve and ambition to be both a respectful Brahmin daughter, and a successful 20th-century woman with a career outside the marital home.

There are many great stories to be enjoyed in this gem of a memoir. It is one of the best of its kind, and one of my favorite books this year.

I look forward to enjoying her other works.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Tiger Ladies: A Memori of Kashmir
When antagonisms between India and Pakistan erupted again this spring, I figured that if I was going to die in a nuclear war over a tiny place like Kashmir, I might as well learn more about it.And The Tiger Ladies is a sad and delicate visit to this land that has been decimated by a conflict that seems to have nothing to do with the people who live there, but external forces.The details of life during her grandmother's days intrigued me the most, and then the sadness of how war has destroyed this magical place seeps through the narrative.It is not sentimental or maudlin, but an impressionistic tale of loss and memory. ... Read more

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