Search results for ‘gone girl’
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn– It is a very difficult task to review a mystery novel such as this one without revealing the ultimate secrets and discoveries, which develop in the book. This is not a “spoiler alert” as I will not deprive you of the fun of reading this book, which I do recommend that you do
As the title hints, you will be immediately confronted by the fact that Nick Dunne, one the main characters in the book has come home one day and his wife Amy is nowhere to be found. He assumes she will return shortly but that is not the case. The distraught husband calls the police and the local detectives become characters in the story as they begin to assemble clues. Thanks to modern media this situation becomes a worldwide story, closely followed by newspapers, television and the Internet.
The format of the book is that there are alternate chapters written in the first person through the eyes and thoughts of Nick and Amy. This provides the reader with the back-story on the two protagonists and their relationship as well as insight into the evolving mystery. The great thing about this book is that it is clearly a page-turner that you don’t want to put down. The author gives us characters who pay attention to details but so does she. There are no wasted words. Every incident or piece of action is ultimately related to something else important in the story. There is also authenticity to the various situations. This is especially true when we are dealing with a mystery where the police are involved. It has to be assumed that the readers have watched CSI and a bunch of other TV crime shows so they come to expect DNA analysis and the like.
However in a typical crime show on TV we expect interesting, even fanciful characters but in a top-notch best selling novel we also expect insight into the characters and their personalities, which are realistic and internally consistent. Those of us who probe the human psyche for a living (being a psychiatrist) especially appreciate this. We meet Amy Dunne’s parents and we do come to understand her unique upbringing but that is as far as it seems to take us. Otherwise she is presented as a beautiful, intelligent woman who was a great catch for Nick. Similarly Nick’s persona is invented as some typical guy that everyone might know and like but we really don’t have a clue about the determinants of his psychological development despite meeting father who basically only utters one sentence over and over. We have very little insight into the two stars of the show.
On the other hand I found it quite interesting to see the authors’ detailed description in the acknowledgment section of the warm, rich relationship that she has with her own family. This only suggests the vivid imagination that she has to have in order to construct the characters in her novel who were quite different.
Despite some the above stated reservations we do own a debt of gratitude to the author for providing a very good read.
Serena by Ron Rash– In a recent book review of the best seller Gone Girl , I noted that despite that book being a very exciting mystery, there was a paucity of information about the background and psychological make up of the two protagonists. Similarly, Serena offers us two very strong characters, Serena and her husband Pemberton, with an interesting but certainly not a page turning, edge of your seat mystery. There is no significant in-depth backstory that really allows us to understand the characters and why they are who they are and how they got there. This certainly does not have to be the mission of every novel but without it we have to evaluate what have we been given? In this case it is an insight into the lives of the mostly men and some women who cut, sawed and hacked their way across the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and surrounding areas in the late 1920s and early 30s’ while the country was in a depression. We came to appreciate the hardship and, at times, danger to life and limb that these lumbermen experienced. We get a glimpse at the movement to develop a national park system and the conflict with the entrepreneurs who were buying up the land to take the trees and minerals while essentially leaving it bare. We also meet a unique married couple who are not only the bosses of a company that is engaged in these practices but who also embody a mean spirited perhaps “evil” nature. They will think nothing of endangering their workers, manipulating and lying to potential business partners and doing whatever has to be done to achieve their ends. This includes a willingness to murder anyone. Thus the book in one sense is a morality play with the workers talking among themselves acting like a Greek chorus highlighting the code of ethics or rather lack of them which are being acted out. Serena, herself emerges as a person who burnt her bridges behind her (although we don’t quite really understand what they were made of) and would do anything to be the timber baroness of the US and then of Brazil. Her singlemindedness becomes frightening and is made of the stuff that would make her an ideal role for any great actress to undertake when Serena , the movie,is ultimately made.
My Way by Paul Anka
I have always enjoyed the music of Paul Anka. So when someone told me that he wrote this book and told all about the behind the scenes goings on of the Rat Pack in Las Vegas, I thought it might be worth reading, especially since Frank Sinatra has always been one of my heroes.
Well, it turned out to be a very interesting book, but the heroes moved down a couple of notches. Frank Sinatra turns out to frequently be an unpleasant drunk when he drank lot which he often did. Sammy Davis, Jr., is shown to be a promiscuous bisexual but interestingly enough, Dean Martin wasn’t the lush that was often his public persona and apparently avoided the wild drinking parties of the other Rat Pack members.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that women were objectified by this group. Sinatra apparently surprised his friends when he said in response to a question that the women who was best in bed wasn’t Ava Gardner but was Angie Dickinson, adding according to Anka that he said he “really loved that woman.”
Paul Anka was born in Canada and burst on to the world stage as a teenager. He is a very talented singer and songwriter who has reinvented himself several time and still is performing into his ‘70s. His love of his work clearly comes through in this book. His song writing ability and his decision to write for other performers as well as himself makes him quite unique. He wrote Frank Sinatra’s signature song “My Way” and even wrote the Tonight Show theme song among numerous other mega hit songs. He has performed in just about every major venue around the world and has recorded bestselling albums in the United States and in other countries, as well as in different languages. Not only was he friends and part of the Rat Pack but he was also good friends with Elvis, Bobby Darin, Bob Dylan and numerous other big name stars.
The person who writes the book gets to paint his own history and is able to tell about others any way that he wishes to do so. For example, Anka relates how Ed McMahon was a somewhat stingy guy and one time Anka played a joke on him by calling his hotel room and pretending to be the hotel staff. He told McMahon that there were going to be noisy renovations taking place near his room and that they can move him to another room or let him stay there for free and give him ear muffs to block out the sound which was the choice that McMahon made.
The reader gets the impression that Anka avoided heavy drinking and drugs and we only get a vague reference that he had all the girls he wanted early in his career. He tells how he loved his parents who were quite supportive of him. His mother died at an early age and his father helped him in his business. Anka had five daughters from his first marriage which lasted 38 years and then was briefly married for 18 months. He revealed very little about his personal foibles but I thought his description of his long marriage and the breakup was notable and I will quote part of it here.
I am a singer of love songs, I sing songs of everlasting love, how you’re the only one – and I believe in it. But sometimes these things don’t work out in your private life. I was married to Anne for 38 years and I love her still. She is the mother of my five daughters who have all brought terrific son-in-laws into our family and we had a great life together. I love this woman. I always will. Getting divorced from Anne was just something I had to do for myself. Our kids were gone, our lives changed, our relationship changed. I can’t remain in something – even a long time of loving marriage – when I’m no longer experiencing things honestly. I didn’t want to be dishonest to someone I love even if that meant separating and so in 2001, Anne and I were divorced. There was no animosity, no big fights – I just wanted out of the box. We talk almost every day… I gave Anne everything that was legally hers and I threw in our art collection (that is worth millions) because I know how much she loved it, and other considerations but I said, “None of this down the middle stuff.
Anka appears to be very gratified for his great success as a performer, he describes many musicians, managers, agents, and performers who were his good friends. He detailed his relationship with Steve Wynn, the wealthy Las Vegas hotel mogul and his many interesting stories about him including one about Donald Trump which is in character with his current persona.
Towards the end of the book, Anka clearly describes how he feels every time he performs and steps on the stage. The intensity of that experience and his connection with the audience is very impressive.
I am sure he didn’t write this book for the royalties that it might bring. He probably chose to share at least part of his life and perhaps try to influence the legacy that he will leave. It was a nice read but he need not worry, as his music will live on and define Paul Anka for many generations. To listen to one of Paul Anka’s biggest hits click here.
The Vietnam War was of my generation. I served in the Air Force in Texas 1968-1970. I recalled vividly the anti-war protesters of that time. There were many great movies about this war that I have seen which includes Apocalypse Now, Platoon and many others. I have met and spoken with refugees from Vietnam including those who identified themselves as “Boat People.” I have a rudimentary understanding of the French colonialism of Vietnam, the rise of communism, the war between the North and South, America’s entry into it and the ultimate withdrawal and the Fall of Saigon. I can’t say that this well-written book clarified this complicated political history to any great degree. In fact, it may have blurred the margins of some of the issues and muted my simplistic view of them. However, what this novel did provide for me was an insight into the personal viewpoints and struggles that many of the native players have gone through as they overtly and covertly battled each other for the heart and soul of this country.
This is a story of revolution and counterrevolution. It occurred in an era of brainwashing, torture, hidden moles, intelligence and counterintelligence. I realized that one’s belief and loyalty to a particular political cause may very well depend on where you were born. But on the other hand, it becomes clear in this case that once the communist revolution succeeded in the North and then in the South, the so-called collective society itself became oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical. This is certainly one of the messages of this book.
This book was well researched and well written. In fact, it is the author’s style and way with words that entertains as well as educates the reader. While most of the sentences of this book were of average length, there was one somewhat lengthy one which will give you a taste of this book and the skill and style of the author:
We could not forget the caramel flavor of iced coffee with coarse sugar; the bowls of noodle soup eaten while squatting on the sidewalk; the strumming of a friend’s guitar while we swayed on hammocks under coconut trees; the football matches played barefoot and shirtless in alleys, squares, parks, and meadows; the pearl chokers of morning mist draped around the mountains; the labial moistness of oysters shucked on a gritty beach; the whisper of a dewy lover saying the most seductive words in our language, anh oi; the rattle of rice being threshed; the workingmen who slept in their cyclos on the streets, kept warm only by the memories of their families; the refugees who slept on every sidewalk of every city; the slow burning of patient mosquito coils; the sweetness and firmness of a mango plucked fresh from its tree; the girls who refused to talk to us and who we only pined for more; the men who had died or disappeared; the streets and homes blown away by bombshells; the streams where we swam naked and laughing; the secret grove where we spied on the nymphs who bathed and splashed with the innocence of the birds; the shadows cast by candlelight on the walls of wattled huts; the atonal tinkle of cowbells on mud roads and country paths; the barking of a hungry dog in an abandoned village; the appetizing reek of the fresh durian one wept to eat; and the sight and sound of orphans howling by the dead bodies of their mothers and fathers; the stickiness of one’s shirt by afternoon, the stickiness of one’s lover by the end of lovemaking, the stickiness of our situations; the frantic squealing of pigs running for their lives as villagers gave chase; the hills afire with sunset; the crowned head of dawn rising from the sheets of the sea; the hot grasp of our mother’s hand; and while the list could go on and on and on, the point was simply this: the most important thing we could never forget was that we could never forget.
Although I don’t think that this book would be at the top of my list, it did win a Pulitzer Prize. So if this subject is of interest to you, The Sympathizer should be worth the ride.
I have read many books about the holocaust, have seen many movies about this subject and have visited various holocaust museums throughout the world. As a psychiatrist, I have treated a few holocaust survivors and many more children of holocaust survivors.
I was therefore surprised how impacted I was by reading this book which consisted of the several page first person stories of 52 holocaust survivors most of whom were born between 1926 and 1938.
I became aware of this book it when a good friend of mine John Glass who is one of the 52 authors, showed me a copy of the book and told me about the project behind it. Each author is a member of the Child Survivors of the Holocaust, Los Angeles Organization that was founded in 1983 after the publication of the book “ Love Despite Hate” by Sarah Moskovitz, PhD which consisted of interviews with child survivors of the Holocaust as adults. Dr. Moskolovitz and Dr. Florabel Kinsler organized the largest international group of child survivors with a membership of more than five hundred people. In the introduction to this book, Marie Kaufman President of the Los Angeles child survivors group and Chair of the Editorial Committee that put together the book noted that many of the authors have given oral testimony to museums and to the Shoah Visual history Foundation. But in the fifteen to twenty years since they have done so, they have become aware that for many reasons they have left part of their story untold. This book gave them opportunity to disclose secrets never divulged before.
As one reads this book and digest the narrative which is recounting horrific early childhood memories, you cannot help but consider whether these are true memories. Could they be screen memories, retrospective memories based on things they were told and learned at a later age? In the course of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis we often help patients reconstruct early childhood memories and feelings. The accuracy of the actual memory may not be as important as the meaning. I do believe that the memories reported in this book do ring to be quite true. I also would suggest a simple exercise before you read this book. Reflect back on your three or four earliest memories. Sometimes it will be helpful to choose a key event which you can easily date such as the birth of a sibling, a death or tragedy or famous event such as the assassination of JFK or Martin Luther King or the landing on the moon, a particular grade school teacher etc. Often the event that you recall will have some negative or conflictual quality. My own earliest memory is when my mother left me alone in our apartment for a few minutes to do an errand and brought me back a chocolate bar. When I discussed this memory with her many years later, she was astounded that I exactly recalled the events and she was able to date it when I was less that three years old. I recalled being under the care of an aunt during the time that my sister was born and my disappointment that a cousin has seen her first. I was less than 5 years old . I also recalled my first day of kindergarden , when I was a few months older than 5. While each of these memories had some anxiety and conflict, they were minuscule compared to the intensity of experiences of being taken away from one’s parents, hiding for prolonged periods of time, starving and witnessing and being threatened with death and destruction all of which were common place in the 53 stories of this book.
There is another important dynamic which inhibited many of the child survivors from publicly telling their story . Many were hidden children who often had to assume non Jewish identities, sometimes having several different gentile names and personas over time as young children during the war . Each time it was impressed upon them that under no circumstances were they to reveal their Jewish identity as this could mean death to them and their adopted families. So even after they were liberated, reunited with any surviving families and were beginning new lives in the United States, many still would not readily talk about their Jewish identity especially with strangers
It is very difficult to understand the experience that these children had where a normal childhood was transformed almost overnight when Kristalnacht occurred in Germany, or when the Germans took over in Poland and issued the new regulations for Jews or similar events that happened in France, Hungry, Italy, Holland and any other places conquered by the Nazi’s. They moved from their comfortable apartments or homes to the Ghetto where they were jammed into one room with extended families and strangers. In anticipation of this situation or in response to it many of their parents made a decision where it was possible to do so, to send their children into hiding with non-Jewish families. In most of the cases the parents could not be hidden with their children. Childhood separation from parents is a very meaningful experience, usually traumatic with the possibility of lasting yearning, resentment, with a wide range of fantasies. This becomes colored by the subsequent events which might include loving, rejecting the adoptive parental figures as well as being torn away from one such family as you are moved to another one. . The fate of their Jewish parents was often death as was that of most of the their original families and friends. While many of the child survivors intellectually came to understand that the decision to try to hide them allowed them to live, the full emotional understanding of this generous act on the part of their parents did not come to them until many years later. It was often when their own children born in a safe environment were now the age at which they had been put into hiding by their own parents, did they appreciate the sacrifice that was made for them. For some this realization did not occur until they had grandchildren who are at the age that they were hidden .
It is important to note that the trials and tribulations for many of these child survivors did not cease with their liberation from concentration camps or from their places of hiding.
In some situations there was persecution by the Russians who liberated them or continued anti-Semetism when they tried to return to their home town. There were hard times often relieved by the many organizations and people who tried to help them reunite their families. There were painful discoveries of what happened to missing family members. There was also long waits for visas to new countries , long travels across the ocean, learning new languages and adapting to a new culture
As was the case of many survivors who were adults during the holocaust , these child survivors spent many years trying to forget and not to look back. They were building a new a life and did not want their children haunted by such terrible events. Their parents who survived or adoptive parents and relatives often did not believe that the experiences which they had as children made a lasting impression on them. As they moved on to a “normal life” in the United States the child survivors themselves thought that their memories and experiences were quite unique and as mentioned above were not inclined to talk about them. Many report an amazingly dramatic unburdening feeling when they attended their first meeting of child survivors. The intensity of that feeling and the realization that so many other children had gone through similar events was life affirming and literally changed the course of the lives.
It is noteworthy that so many of the child survivors have gone on to have very productive lives. Perhaps because they themselves have been helped by strangers (many of whom have been recognized in Yad Vashem as the ‘righteous gentiles” or “righteous among nations”) they have chosen a helping profession themselves. It seems to me that a high percentage have gone on to be social workers, therapists and teachers. Some report moving into these fields after a successful career in business. Others have become artists and poets expressing their feelings and experiences in their work. There were numerous poems as part of the narratives.
Many of the child survivors did not talk about the past for most of their lives and for many it has only been in their twilight years that most have felt an obligation to tell their stories or record a first hand account that will exist for future generations. A good number of the authors of this have devoted many hours to teaching about the holocaust in schools and museum and giving lectures in various settings. These activities and the writing of the chapter for this book as well as other publications that some of them have done appears to have been therapeutic for the. .
The authors appeared to have tried their best to be sincere and honest in sharing all these events and their past and present feelings about what they have been through. For most there is a triumph for having survived and for being responsible for the presence of so many wonderful people that they have nurtured and supported in their subsequent lives For some of people there is still an ever present wound or bewilderment and pain which stretches from their childhood to their later years. They are still trying to figure out why and how the events of their childhood could have happened. For all there is the satisfaction of having told the story of what really happened so those who were deprived of their lives will not be forgotten
This was not an easy book to read. While I read it in linear fashion over a two week period and did not intersperse with other books perhaps that might not be the best way to read it. For some it might be best to consume it in small doses . I suspect that some readers will appreciate the value of the book but will put it aside and may not complete it.
I realize also that I may not have captured the essence of the experience of the authors in this review. I would like to give you a few random excerpts although I hope over time you will read the complete version of each of these 52 stories as they all deserve to be remembered:
Lea- Born 1938 I was placed through the Dutch underground with a Christian family. There were many other children. Suddenly the family was betrayed. The underground took all the children away to new hiding places. On of my first memories was of being on a train with other boys and girls…. I was taken to family of farmers in the small town of Horst by two men dressed in police uniforms. My clothes were torn and I had sores all over my body. The men said that they ha d smuggled me out of some detention center but I have never been able to find out what happened to me.
Jack- Born 1926- The ghetto was organized into factories of every possible trade and all the the production was for the German military…My father could not get employment…When I saw my dad for the last time he was forty one years old…In July 1944 we were transported in cattle cars to Auschwitz-Birkenau. I was with my mother…(We) went through a selection conducted by Dr. Mengele. My mother was sent to the other side. Now sixty four years later, I can still see her walking hunched over, as if she know where she was going. I’m still haunted by this picute and I know that I will for the rest of my life. How do I reconcile the fact that my children are now older than my parents were when they were murdered.?
Lya- Born 1936- When I was seven and she (sister) was four we both went into hiding with different families. The thought never occurred to me that this would be the last time I’d ever see my parents. They never knew where we ended up…In 1946 my sister and I were sent live with Parents Number 5 in Denmark…I was a very difficult teenager. Obstinate, opinionated, aggressive. I was sent out of class many times. It was sheer anger- a way of expressing myself to the world…My husband ( also a survivor) wasn’t interested in talking about his experiences and for the longest time I didn’t think that mine really countered. …I started dealing with my past in 1993, I was fifty six…. That’s when I first shared my story ( in a group ) about losing my parents, grandparents, being separated from my sister and being in hiding with strangers. After that night, I became more aware of my own feelings. I could justify them. They were real and they weren’t something nonexistent.
Peter- Born 1936- In 1940 when I was four years old I was no longer permitted to attend my pre school nor to attend any other school. From my earliest memories, I had to wear a yellow star with the word “Jude” on my jackets and shirts…People looked at us in disgust and were often rude to my mother when she shopped for food…Only 32 out of the 100 Jews transported in the cattle car I was in survived the Holocaust. I lived in the children’s barracks (in Terezin)…We slept in bunk beds on straw and had only a thin blanket. There was only cold water to wash ourselves in the summer and harsh winters…There was small piece of bread in the morning with some brown water they called “coffee” and for supper a watery soup with an occasional small potato. We were half starved yet we were expected to work…(After the war)I lived my teenage years as a laborer, farm hand truck driver across the US. …By the age of 33 I had completed high school, graduated from San Diego State University and received a graduate degree in Global Management. … I have seven grandchildren.
Robert- Born 1935- When I was four years old our lives changed forever, The Gestapo came to our apartment and told us to take just a little luggage and follow them. They sent us by train to the Polish border. The poles would not let us in and Germans would not take us back…We traveled around Poland living as gentiles with an assumed name….The family that hid me decided to put me in the attic in the house. Many times they forgot to take care of me and did not feed me. …After the uprising failed the Germans planned eliminate the city’s population.. Everyone was loaded upon trains, which were headed to Auschwitz. …We knew we were going to be killed…My mother noticed that one of the cars had an opening on top. The train stopped about 100 yards from the Auschwitz concentration camp. My step father Emil lifted me up over the open car and I was able to open the train car door…In February 1947 we took a boat to America and settled with our extended family in Pittsburgh. I quickly learned English and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1957 with degree in electrical engineering. …Over the years I have spoken about the holocaust to thousands of middle and high school children.
Erika- Born 1928- At the time of my birth my parents (in Hungary) owned two kosher restaurants. I went to school unitl the age of fourteen when the anti Jewish Hungarian government closed the Jewish schools. Anti-Semetism forced many Jewish owned businesses to close or be taken over by non-Jews. Most of my uncles had been taken to forced labor camps in early 1940-42…I was deported to Auschwitz with my mother. We were lucky and escaped the selection. …On the day the Soviet liberators entered our camp they raped many women and wanted us to work for them. …I was helped tremendously by breaking the silence and talking about my experiences. Confronting my losses and acknowledging the effects of the traumatic times in my life have helped me to recover psychologically. However I still have problems such as fear of authority, anxiety about the health of my family, about separation and the fear of loss.
For more information or to order this book go to www.childsurvivorsla.org
I have probably been listening to Jonathan Schwartz play Frank Sinatra and his genre of music on the radio for more than 30 years originally in New York and now on satellite radio in LA. His intimate understanding of the music ,the song writers and the singers was matched by his warm personal style of chatting with the audience. I guess I felt that he was one of my friends and I spent many weekend afternoons listening to him. I knew he was a well respected expert in this music, had been a singer himself and that his father was a well known song writer who wrote Dancing in the Dark and some other songs that were part of the American Song Book. Therefore I was very pleased when a dear cousin of mine presented me with this book as a gift. After reading it I feel that I now know “my friend” much better and as a psychiatrist I particularly understand some of the pain suffering that he has gone through in his remarkable life. Growing up he was surrounded by show business stars and has to be one of the few people on earth who can recall as a small child having Judy Garland come into his room and sing him “Over the Rainbow.” Unfortunately he had to also suffer the death of his mother while he was little kid. He also encountered a step mother who treated him much worst than was the case in the Cinderella story. He shared the sad story of his childhood excursions of sneaking into neighbors homes in Beverly Hills to hid behind their couches just to listen to their family interactions He did inherit his father’s musical ability, developed a wonderful ear for music and insight into the popular music of his early years and the genre which was built upon it. His desire to play music on the radio was manifested as an early teenager as he rigged up his own radio station when living in Manhattan which could be picked up in his apartment house on many radios. This well written memoir ( he is also an accomplished writer) is an intimate one in which we learn of his encounters with girls and young women and his hardy drinking. He paints a full rich picture of the nature of many of his difficult relationships with women. He seems to pull few punches as he tells of his flirting with suicide, his psychiatric admission and his time at Betty Ford Hospital. for his alcoholism. While I would not venture a psychiatric diagnosis, I will say that I do believe that the five years or so that he had with his mother and a connection with his father that while certainly rocky and tested at times allowed him to ultimately develop a warm mature personality. He seems to be a caring father with a very good relationship with his children. Perhaps the vignette which stands out most in my mind from the book is the story how Frank Sinatra ( certainly a symbolic father figure to him ) whom he did meet several times, arranged to have him fired from his radio job because he made some negative critique of one of his albums. Despite this traumatic event Jonathan Schwartz never faltered in his love for the man and his music. Although we are the same age, I am very grateful that he continues to be on the radio with no sign of slowing down and to be “my friend” and companion as I enjoy my favorite music.