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A Washington Post Notable Work of Nonfiction An NPR Best Book of 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo turns to memoir in this hilarious and bittersweet account of his lifelong bond with his high-strung, spirited mother—and the small town she spent her life trying to escape. Anyone familiar with Russo’s novels will recognize Gloversville—once famous for producing nine out of ten dress gloves in the United States. By the time Rick was born, ladies had stopped wearing gloves and Gloversville was on its way out. Jean Russo instilled in her son her dream of a better life elsewhere, a dream that prompted her to follow him across the country when he went to college. Their adventures and tribulations on that road trip were a preview of the hold his mother would continue to have on him as she kept trying desperately to change her life. Recounted with a clear-eyed mix of regret, nostalgia, and love, Elsewhere is a stirring tribute to the tenacious grip of the past.
This work is the author's memoir of his life, his parents, and the upstate New York town they all struggled variously to escape. Anyone familiar with the author's fiction will recognize Gloversville, New York, once famous for producing that eponymous product and anything else made of leather. This is where the author grew up, the only son of an aspirant mother and a good-time, second-fiddle father who were born into this close-knit community. But by the time of his childhood in the 1950s, prosperity was inexorably being replaced by poverty and illness (often tannery-related), everyone barely scraping by under a very low horizon. A world elsewhere was the dream his mother instilled in Rick, and strived for herself, and their subsequent adventures and tribulations, recounted here, only to prove lifelong, as would Gloversville's fearsome grasp on them both.
Presents a personal account of the author's youth, his parents, and the 1950s upstate New York town they struggled to escape, recounting the encroaching poverty and illness that challenged everyday life and the dreams his mother instilled that inspired his career.
Like a gale at her back, history propelled Julia Israel Schueler early in life on a westward course. She was born in Moscow in 1923 and at the age of three months was exiled with her parents and other Mensheviks to Berlin. Twice more "The Group" was displaced - to Paris in 1933 as Adolf Hitler intensified the persecution of political opponents, and to the United States, via Spain and Lisbon, when he invaded France in 1940. Elsewhere is Schueler's life memoir, an adventure, coming-of-age, and coming-to-America story all in one. Against the gripping backdrop of major twentieth-century events, she tells in lyrical prose her personal tale of immigration and acculturation, and the ongoing search for an elusive home "elsewhere." Schueler revisits memories of school days in Germany; streets blood-stained from an early version of Kristallnachtand the admonishment "You saw nothing"; nostalgia for socialist songs of youth; reading banned books by Balzac and Zola; a wardrobe of castoff, made-over clothes; the shock of seeing Paris in blackout; scenes of civil war-ravaged Spain; tears of guilt in Times Square on New Year's Eve 1940; and much more. She introduces a parade of intriguing individuals, including her imaginative, romantic schoolmate Vivi, the niece of Leon Trotsky; Mr. Wittenberg, a close family acquaintance who spoke Esperanto; Dina, the daring young friend who ran away to become a model for the sculptor Aristide Maillol; and refugees from Stalinist gulags and German concentration camps. Elsewhere will draw readers into a delightful intimacy with the author as they follow her suspenseful passage from impressionable childhood through vibrant youth to graceful maturity, to finding home at last in New Orleans. For the past forty years, Julia Schueler has lived in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans - "my springboard to fly out to far-off places, always to come back refreshed, renewed, and happy to call it home." She taught German and French there for over twenty years and then launched a second career as a trilingual tour guide and lecturer.
John Nathan arrived in Tokyo in 1961 fresh out of Harvard College, bringing with him no practical experience, no more than two connections, no prospects, and little else to recommend him but stoic, unflappable pluck. Japan at that time was still in the shadow of the Occupation, and only a handful of foreigners were studying the country seriously. Two years later, Nathan became the first American to pass the entrance exams to the best school in Japan, the University of Tokyo. He went on to translate two of Japan's greatest contemporary writers, Yukio Mishima and Nobel laureate Kenzaburõ Õe, and direct several series of films in and about Japan in collaboration with world-famous directors and businesses; earn an advanced degree at Harvard and a professorship at Princeton; and become a Hollywood screenwriter. Nathan was given unprecedented access to the inner sanctum of Sony for his book Sony: The Private Life, and he explored the damaged psyche of postbubble Japan in his acclaimed Japan Unbound. During his decades of passionate engagement with Japan, Nathan became close friends with many of the most gifted people in the land -- politicians and business leaders as well as painters, novelists, directors, rock stars, and movie stars -- and was privileged to travel, in their very special company, inside domains of Japanese life not normally open to foreigners then or now. In his unique chronicle of that journey, Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere, he details the adventures sublime, profane, and uproarious, many of a distinctly Japanese nature, that characterized his career, which was singular in its success as much as in its chaos. Along the way, he brings the most exciting era in recent Japanese history vividly into focus with wry humor, penetrating insight, and pathos. John Nathan is not the only foreigner to have developed a rich, full, deeply nuanced understanding of Japan. But his experiences are certainly extraordinary and in fact irreproducible, and his memoir is the most personally satisfying story yet told of Japan (and elsewhere). From Nathan's lifetime of wisdom, compassion, and brazen resolve, we learn the value of traveling within our own mental and emotional borders as well as without the many places we call home.
From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor, and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late '80s and '90s. There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. This was the New York of Palladium; of Mars, Limelight, and Twilo; of unchecked, drug-fueled hedonism in pumping clubs where dance music was still largely underground, popular chiefly among working-class African Americans and Latinos. And then there was Moby—not just a poor, skinny white kid from Connecticut, but a devout Christian, a vegan, and a teetotaler. He would learn what it was to be spat on, to live on almost nothing. But it was perhaps the last good time for an artist to live on nothing in New York City: the age of AIDS and crack but also of a defiantly festive cultural underworld. Not without drama, he found his way. But success was not uncomplicated; it led to wretched, if in hindsight sometimes hilarious, excess and proved all too fleeting. And so by the end of the decade, Moby contemplated an end in his career and elsewhere in his life, and put that emotion into what he assumed would be his swan song, his good-bye to all that, the album that would in fact be the beginning of an astonishing new phase: the multimillion-selling Play. At once bighearted and remorseless in its excavation of a lost world, Porcelain is both a chronicle of a city and a time and a deeply intimate exploration of finding one’s place during the most gloriously anxious period in life, when you’re on your own, betting on yourself, but have no idea how the story ends, and so you live with the honest dread that you’re one false step from being thrown out on your face. Moby’s voice resonates with honesty, wit, and, above all, an unshakable passion for his music that steered him through some very rough seas. Porcelain is about making it, losing it, loving it, and hating it. It’s about finding your people, your place, thinking you've lost them both, and then, somehow, when you think it’s over, from a place of well-earned despair, creating a masterpiece. As a portrait of the young artist, Porcelain is a masterpiece in its own right, fit for the short shelf of musicians’ memoirs that capture not just a scene but an age, and something timeless about the human condition. Push play.
A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011 Celebrated as one of the most poignant stylists of his generation, André Aciman has written a luminous series of linked essays about time, place, identity, and art that show him at his very finest. From beautiful and moving pieces about the memory evoked by the scent of lavender; to meditations on cities like Barcelona, Rome, Paris, and New York; to his sheer ability to unearth life secrets from an ordinary street corner, Alibis reminds the reader that Aciman is a master of the personal essay.

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