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Charles Schwab hired me for my first 'adult job' when I was not yet 19. The discount brokerage Schwab had created and named after himself contracted me and about a dozen others to convert paper pages and handwritten data into a fledgling computer program he had purchased, at a new office building he had leased outside San Francisco's business district. Everything about this company was innovative, including how Schwab logged hours alongside the hired staff. Throughout the forty years since, "Chuck" Schwab has amassed a fortune pursuing inventive, and often high-risk, ideas, all of which he highlights in his autobiography, Invested. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
Testimony to both Robin Williams' artistic brilliance and to this nation's utter inability to understand depression, Itzkoff's biography, Robin, characterizes the actor's intensive vitae as spirited by his creative depths, and by how Williams desired, always, to improve upon his art. Yet this desire manifested as a need to push beyond his self, which following his death left even his family and his closest friends, almost all of whom are comedic performers, as unwilling to accept his final act's role. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
After her father dies, Alexandra Fuller realizes the world she had written herself out of contained the life his laid-back nature had composed, from his moving her and her family to pre-Revolutionary Rhodesia when she was very young. In her newest memoir, Travel Light, Move Fast, Fuller reconsiders her father's role in shaping her world, exploring ideas about 'forever,' a concept she now recognizes as untenable in her. She talks with her mother, who recalls too well the poverty her husband's socialist ideals forced them to endure, and with her sister, who like the author was sent to attend Africa's best white boarding schools, which opened opportunities for them upon which they both left Africa. Now finding herself unable to elegize her or her family's loss, Fuller realizes that the "peace and calm" her father lived by were the same concepts which continue to elude her living as an adult. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
Confronted with staggering loss, of house, of farm, and of health, Raynor Winn and her husband, Moth, fill rucksacks with enough provisions to reach the next town, and head out for a walk. As Winn recounts in her memoir, The Salt Path, the couple treads the country's Salt Coast Path's 630 miles, not for any sense of accomplishment, nor with a clear plan or any real direction beyond north. This is not a life-affirming journey. It is not about the Winns' self-awakening, or their overcoming tremendous odds. Rather, it is a kind of reevaluating self-worth, as England's economic iniquities brings others and entire communities to the same crises, so that along their route, the Winns are offered respite from and solace for their loss, with the awareness that their country's ideals are systematically being depleted. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
Trees talk. Trees sound their own earthy harmonic, a tonality attuned to all its creatures and with its laconic orbit. Trees talk, but only a very few humans can listen, and then only from within their ever-tunneling perspective. Each of Richard Powers' viewpoint characters in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory, can hear the trees' voice, and in their own way, dedicate their lives and work to ensuring that trees speak on, and loudly. Yet unseen and powerful opposition works equally hard, and with far greater violence, creating unique and various battlefields upon which the characters engage in unending struggle, even after the novel climaxes in a deafening crescendo for each character, who despite their consistent, persistent, and ongoing resistance to unchecked governmental and economic abuses and overuses, regress into a kind of general malaise, harmonizing despair with the same trees they had each hoped to save. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci