A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

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ISBN: 9780375725784
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Published: Vintage - February 13th, 2001

Every page of this book is a surprise. It's a difficult book to review; there is nothing like it for comparison, and I really want to do it justice. I was reading the copyright page, which includes the usual information and some unusual; Dave Egger's height, weight, eye color and sexual orientation among other clever asides. I laughed, hard. By the time I was through the preface, I worried that Eggers wouldn't be able to sustain the level of "clever" and would sink into precious or overdone to the enth degree. No worries, the entire book IS a work of staggering, in all its definitions, genius. And it is heartbreaking. "Based on a true story" is printed on the cover, in immensely small letters, above Dave Eggers name. The story is not all that unique: parents die and children in their twenties are left to raise a younger sibling, in this case 8 year old Toph. What is unique and marvelous is Eggers' execution of his story, his fluid, not stream of consciousness, rather river of revelation style. He writes about his daily life with raw honesty, yet manages to convey a sense of wonder and humor. Don't miss this book.

M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio

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ISBN: 9780312274740
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Picador - February 10th, 2001

M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio by Peter Robb is an engrossing biography of the violent, passionate, provocative artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. He lived a short, turbulent but productive life (1571-1610), shocking the art and church establishments by using his lovers - young boys and female prostitutes - as models for his groundbreaking portrayals of religious and classical subjects as living people. Robb uses the few existing facts about the artist as well as his own interpretations of the paintings to create a highly readable, melodramatic biography of this innovative, iconoclastic artist. ~ Reviewed by Louise Jones

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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By Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780345514400
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Published: Ballantine Books - April 21st, 2009

Maya Angelou describes her life with grace and dignity. This is the powerful story of how this brilliant writer found her voice in spite of the racism, sexism, and abuse which attempted to silence her.

Autobiography of Malcolm X

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ISBN: 9780345350688
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Published: Ballantine Books - October 12th, 1987

Reading this book altered the way I view race, justice, and the world we live in. I truly came to understand the emotion behind the phrase "by any means necessary". It is a powerful book that I think everyone should read.

Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist

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By Alexander Berkman, John William Ward (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780940322349
Availability: Special Order
Published: NYRB Classics - September 30th, 1999

Alexander Berkman was a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States in the late 1800's. He was an anarchist and the lover of Emma Goldman. In 1892, in response to the massacre of workers in the Homestead strike, Berkman attempted to assassinate Henry Clay Frick--the manager of Carnegie Steel. This political act, meant to incite workers to revolution, failed. At the tender age of twenty-two Berkman was arrested and sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. This is a fascinating book for two main reasons. Berkman personified what it meant to be a true revolutionary. He was intense and brilliant and totally devoted to "the cause." His memoirs invite you into his world, into the workings of his mind. This book is packed with information about anarchist philosophy and a version of history you are unlikely to read about in text books. Berkman's powerful descriptions of how prison and solitary confinement change people are harrowing and unforgettable. Prison also educated Berkman in strange ways. At first he felt superior to "common criminals", but over time he became sympathetic to the other prisoners. A natural leader, Berkman remained true to his beliefs and fought for the rights of the prisoners regardless of what the punishments might have been. Berkman's story is an important and moving one.

Girl, Interrupted

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ISBN: 9780679746041
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Published: Vintage - April 19th, 1994

After a failed attempted suicide and a very brief session with a psychiatrist, Susanna Kaysen was sent to a mental hospital. There she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and received shock treatments. This is a startling and questioning story of madness and recovery. The wonderful thing about this book is the powerful descriptions of what goes on inside Kaysen's head. It's really an incredibly clear and dark journey into Susanna Kaysen's thoughts. It's a great book.


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