This book is moving in a way that transcends story and message; it captures a pure sense of another person's heart.

DEAR MEMORY

LETTERS ON WRITING, SILENCE, AND GRIEF

In a series of letters and collages, an award-winning poet explores the wounds of her family history as well as her life as a writer and a mother.

"I wonder whether memory is different for immigrants, for people who leave so much behind,” writes Chang, whose parents were immigrants from Taiwan. “Memory isn’t something that blooms but something that bleeds internally, something to be stopped.” After the impressive formal innovations of her 2020 book, OBIT, which won multiple national awards, Chang continues to find new ways to plumb her experiences on the page. In addition to family members, she includes letters to Silence, to her Body, and to friends, fellow poets, and a teacher who started her on her way as a writer, which end up giving the book a second identity as an essay on craft. "What I learned from you was to forget the sun,” she writes, “that the moon burned more, to cling to things that didn’t seem to leave a trace, such as memory or silence or cruelty or beauty.” In “Dear Reader,” Chang explains that while she was at work on the letters, she found a box of photographs and interviews she conducted with her late mother. Using these and a variety of official documents, she presents a series of collages with hand-lettered text that create a backdrop of family history addressed both directly and indirectly by the letters. Depending on what one brings to this book, each reader may find their own moment of goosebumps or tears. One possibility are these lines on overcoming silence: "I still carry the brick around with me everywhere I go, but it is now outside of my throat. Sometimes I use it as a paper weight. Other times, it’s so light that it feels like I no longer have it at all."

This book is moving in a way that transcends story and message; it captures a pure sense of another person's heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57131-392-8

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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