From Charlene Muhr
author: Martin, Steve
Born Standing Up
Born standing up is Steve Martin’s memoir that follows his career from his childhood through his work as a stand-up comic. The memoir reveals Steve’s dysfunctional relationship with his father and the anxiety attacks that plagued him for twenty years. Steve was only ten years old when he got a job at Disneyland selling guidebooks. For the next five years he worked at the magic shop in Disneyland. It was here where he developed his love for magic and it was his magic act that helped him “break into” show business. Steve did stand-up at a café in San Francisco, and the Bird Cage at Knott’s Berry Farm. At twenty-one, Steve began writing for the Smother’s Brother’s show, and guest appearances soon followed on the Tonight Show, the Steve Allen show, Saturday Night Live and many others. Steve Martin’s success is attributed to his talent, hard work, and persistence. This memoir is an easy, quick read that is very entertaining.
From Eileen Effrat
author: Humbert, Agnes
Resistance: A Woman’s Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France
In June 1940 Paris fell to the Germans. So begins the memoir of Agnes
Humbert, a forty year old art historian who joins the resistance. The
beginning of this memoir details the early days of the German occupation
and her founding of a newspaper in November 1940 called Resistance. In
April 1941 she is caught by the Gestapo and spends time in a Paris prison
where she is harshly interrogated, yet never betrays her fellow
resistance workers. She is tried and sentenced to hard labor in Germany.
What follows are barbaric conditions in several slave labor camps where
she never loses sight of her humanity and the needs of fellow prisoners.
She quietly continues her resistance by sabotaging whatever she was forced to make. In April 1945 she was liberated by U.S. forces. Originally
this book was published in France in 1946 and only translated into English
in 2008. This is a memoir of her reflections on these events. What emerges
is a story of one remarkable woman with great courage and determination.
From Linda Lennon
author: Mascia, Jennifer
Never Tell Our Business to Strangers
Author Jennifer Mascia is 5 years old when she witnesses the FBI arrest her father. At that moment she realizes her family isn’t exactly like everyone else’s. This memoir, along the lines of Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle, chronicles a dysfunctional family and the amazing survival of a strong child. Filled with drug dealing, murder, bankruptcy and cocaine addictions, Mascia tells the story of a loving family and her struggle to overcome her notorious parent’s deaths a few years apart from cancer leaving her alone.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Beecher, Suzanne
Muffins and mayhem: recipes for a happy (if disorderly) life
A memoir laced with recipes. The author is the creator of DearReader.com,
an online book club. As a member, I know that she prefaces each online
installment with her daily column. In this book, she details her humble
beginnings as an only child in Cuba City, WI. In spite of an alcoholic
father and an indifferent mother who doesn’t understand her, she has an
indomitable spirit. She is not afraid to make (big) mistakes, and to make
fun of herself. She seems to be a business/marketing genius, without any
college degrees. After a failed marriage, she finds Mr. Right, also
divorced with kids. She and her husband move to Sarasota, FL. She has a
son and a daughter, but hardly mentions them. I would like to have read
why she married him so soon and why in Iowa City, and what it was like to
raise a blended family. Her take on living with an eye disorder was
inspiring (she learned to love the disorder instead of fighting it).
I didn’t like the recipes very much: the potstickers seemed too difficult
and others were too pedestrian. Some of the chapters are verbatim from
her online column. The grief over losing her mother is raw and if you
have been in a similar situation, you can relate.