A stellar debut memoir.

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PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS

A MEMOIR

An engrossing memoir about growing up Black and gay and finding a place in the world.

Structured around Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool,” Broome’s thought-provoking, emotional journey unfolds through a clever use of parallel stories and juxtaposition. Writing about an experience at a bus stop on “the Black end of town,” where he watched a father berate his toddler son for crying, the author addresses his own upbringing with an abusive father whose “beatings were like lightning strikes. Powerful, fast, and unpredictable. He held his anger so tightly that, when it finally overtook him, the force was bone-shaking. He punched me like I was a grown-ass man.” As a dark-skinned Black boy in Ohio, Broome’s childhood was fraught with peril; at school, it was made abundantly clear that God “made white people and Black people and meant for us to stick to our own kind.” His parents used shame and abuse to try and toughen him up, tactics the author describes in heart-wrenching detail. While watching the man on the bus, he realized that “what I am witnessing, is the playing out of one of the very conditions that have dogged my entire existence. This 'being a man' to the exclusion of all other things.” Moving back and forth through time, Broome revisits similar scenes—e.g., punishment and rejection for not acting according to someone’s expectations, halting attempts to express himself—and he interrogates his complicated relationship with his parents. In one particularly poignant passage, the author describes how he convinced his mother to buy him a girl’s shirt at the store: “And from that day to this one, no one has ever looked at me like my mother did that day. It was pity mixed with worry for what was to come. It was the piping pink manifestation of all she had ever suspected.” Beautifully written, this examination of what it means to be Black and gay in America is a must-read.

A stellar debut memoir.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-43910-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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