Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This memoir is a heartfelt and beautifully written account of how Cambridge professor Helen Macdonald used her experience with falconry to help her cope with her grief over the sudden death of her father.

In remembering her childhood dreams and her love of books where animals were the primary characters, she pulls “The Goshawk” from the shelf. The author, T. H. White, also wrote “The Sword and the Stone.”

Throughout her memoir, Macdonald reverts to White, his troubled life, and his taming of a hawk. White was not always successful. Macdonald connects his mistakes in training his goshawk with the mistakes and troubles in his own life. These revelations are all part of her ultimate success in training Mabel, her goshawk.

A book about nature is not something I normally gravitate to. But the high praise for this book about Mabel and her trainer, drew me in. I admired McDonald’s writing and her sentiments throughout this memoir. Macdonald’s undertakings force the reader to admire her tenacity. So the book is a wonder for those who appreciate determination while soaking in the wonders of her English countryside. Yes, this is a book to admire.





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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review: The Night of the Gun

The Night of the Gun The Night of the Gun by David Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Because this review contained information that Goodreads considers a "spoiler alert," I have edited my review. I wrote my former review in a manner that people who suffer from addiction might find hope even when recovery takes a long time.}

Edited Review: David Carr gives new meaning to the words “brutally honest” in this memoir tracing his years of addiction to alcohol and drugs and his path to sobriety. Carr makes no excuses for his behaviors or decisions, both personal and professional.

Recognizing the unreliability of memory, Carr wanted to assure the accuracy of the events in his life, so he returned to Minnesota where he set up a camera and recorder and interviewed a cast of characters in his life: family, co-workers, friends, addicts, counselors, therapists, lawyers, editors, writers, and more.

He says, “Memories may be based on what happened to begin with, but they are reconstituted each time they are recalled-with the most-remembered events frequently the least accurate. And memory uses the building blocks of fiction-physical detail, arc, character, and consequence-to help us explain ourselves to ourselves and to others. As such, remembering is an act if assertion as much as recollection.”

This addiction memoir is an accurate picture of Carr’s dependency and recovery. It covers his years as an active alcoholic and drug addict, his experience smoking crack cocaine, his time in flop houses, going to meetings to maintain his recovery, meanwhile maintaining a life as a reporter in several Minnesota newspapers.

Ultimately, Carr left Minnesota for a job in Washington, D.C. and then the New York Times summoned. His skill as an excellent writer and journalist is evident on every page of this memoir.

For readers who have not experienced addiction themselves or known the powers of addiction through family members or friends, Carr explains all too well the harm and devastation of the slippery slope caused by just one drink.



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Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: The Night of the Gun

The Night of the Gun The Night of the Gun by David Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


David Carr gives new meaning to the words “brutally honest” in this memoir tracing his years of addiction to alcohol and drugs, his path to sobriety, and his relapse after fourteen years. Carr makes no excuses for his behaviors or decisions, both personal and professional.

Recognizing the unreliability of memory, Carr wanted to assure the accuracy of the events in his life, so he returned to Minnesota where he set up a camera and recorder and interviewed a cast of characters in his life: family, co-workers, friends, addicts, counselors, therapists, lawyers, editors, writers, and more.

He says, “Memories may be based on what happened to begin with, but they are reconstituted each time they are recalled-with the most-remembered events frequently the least accurate. And memory uses the building blocks of fiction-physical detail, arc, character, and consequence-to help us explain ourselves to ourselves and to others. As such, remembering is an act if assertion as much as recollection.”

This addiction memoir is an accurate picture of Carr’s dependency and recovery. It covers his years as an active alcoholic and drug addict, his experience smoking crack cocaine, his time in flop houses, going to meetings to maintain his recovery, meanwhile maintaining a life as a reporter in several Minnesota newspapers. A major heartbreak in Carr’s life was the realization that his twin daughters were conceived while both he and his wife were using.

Ultimately, Carr left Minnesota for a job in Washington, D.C. and then the New York Times summoned. His skill as an excellent writer and journalist is evident on every page of this memoir.

For readers who have not experienced addiction themselves or known the powers of addiction through family members or friends, Carr explains all too well the harm and devastation of the slippery slope caused by just one drink.



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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review: The Trip: Andy Warhol's Plastic Fantastic Cross-Country Adventure

The Trip: Andy Warhol's Plastic Fantastic Cross-Country Adventure The Trip: Andy Warhol's Plastic Fantastic Cross-Country Adventure by Deborah Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The trip described in the title is just one part of this book that is actually a biography of the Pop artist. Having previously known only the bare facts of Warhol and his art, I found this book very interesting and informative, a comprehensive look at all the elements of the various movements in New York during the 1960s and 1970s.

Although I'd never call myself a fan of Pop art or of some the artists during that time, I learned why their visions and their techniques are considered so important.

For those who love art in all its manifestations, this is a book to read. May I also suggest another of Deborah Davis's books, "Strapless," which is the story of John Singer Sargent and the woman who became known as Madame X. Davis is an exceptional writer.

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