biography/memoir

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The Book of Drugs: A Memoir by Mike Doughty

As in most books I've read about addicts, Mike Doughty's doesn't really wallow for long in how awful it must be but his is the only one I've ever read in which the author says: "If heroin still made me feel like I did the first time, and kept making me that way forever -- kept working -- I might've quite happily accepted a desolate, marginal life and death."  Although sobriety is surely the better choice, he's seems to have traded desolate and marginal for bitterness and self loathing.

Soccer Men by Simon Kuper

Euro 2012 has kicked off in Poland and the Ukraine.  This is one of the world’s largest soccer tournaments, featuring sixteen of Europe’s top flight clubs.  Will Spain continue their dominance, or will Germany restore order? To get you in the mood, try Simon Kuper’s Soccer Men.  This book contains essays on some of the great players and managers of today and the recent past. The profiles explore what makes a truly great player or soccer strategist. You can dig a little deeper and check out Kuper’s older book, Soccernomics, which explores the who wins and why.

My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman

As is typical in most autobiographies, Gregg Allman tries to put the best spin on years of bad behavior.  Of course he's been married 6 or 7 times, but it was never his idea.  He's just a pawn in the game, man.   Too drunk and drugged up to participate in his own life, he presents himself as so passive that it's a miracle he could write a song on his own or tour with the band.  Written in conversational style, the book is filled with entertaining side notes, such as his belief that the Grateful Dead had fans because they dosed them with acid.  He also asserts that

Then Again by Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton's memoir is far from being a Hollywood tell-all. While she does talk about certain films and boyfriends (Annie Hall and Woody Allen, Reds and Warren Beatty, The Godfather trilogy and Al Pacino), the heart of the story is her mother and Alzheimer's, her decision to adopt at age 50 and her lifelong struggle with self-confidence. Portions of her mother's 85 journals are juxtaposed with Diane's own story, and the book includes photos of Diane and family, as well as scanned images from her mother's journals.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

In her profoundly moving second memoir, Fuller returns to capture a lifetime of loss and failure in southern Africa experienced by her parents. Only somewhat forgiven by her mother for writing the excellent "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" (that Awful Book) we are the beneficiares of a ruthlessly lucid love story of a daughter for a mother who has Lived Life in Capital Letters.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey is a great comedy writer, and this book is no exception. While there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, what made this book so enjoyable was the insightful, behind the scenes look at working for SNL, and Fey's Sarah Palin transformation, juxtaposed with Fey's struggle to be a woman in the male dominated comedy world and a working mother. Fans will enjoy this book, but it will appeal more to female readers.

It's So Easy: And Other Lies by Duff McKagan

If you're looking for a racy, behind the scenes rock n' roll chronicle this isn't it.  This engaging memoir by Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan is more of a reflection on his substance abuse, and overcoming it, with his life in music as a background.

The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching and Life on the Mound by Ron Darling

Starting pitcher for the New York Mets from 1983 to 1991, Darling eloquently describes the beautiful cruelty of our national pastime. This is less a technical description of the mechanics and tactics of pitching (though you will find plenty of that, too) than an insightful and captivating exploration of what goes on inside the mind of the man who occupies this uniquely strategic position. Rich with fascinating anecdotes and notes on the subtler aspects of the game, Darling provides a marvelous expose on the inner life of pitchers. Great preparation for spring training!

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

One in three Americans captured by the Japanese in WWII died in captivity. This is the gripping story of one who survived. After enlisting in the Army Air Corps, sometime juvenile delinquent and Olympic runner Louis Zamperini's odyssey takes a decidedly grim turn when the B-24 on which he serves as a bombadier crashes in the Pacific. After drifting for 47 days, he is picked up by the Japanese. And the story turns hellish. For two and a half years he  endures the sadistic torture of his guards, humiliation, starvation, medical experiments, slave labor and disease.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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