While going to the garbage dump with his father, young Augusten spots a chipped, glass-top coffee table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could h...moreWhile going to the garbage dump with his father, young Augusten spots a chipped, glass-top coffee table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could hide the chip by fanning a display of magazines on the surface, like in a doctor's office," he writes, "And it certainly wouldn't be dirty after I polished it with Windex for three hours." There were certainly numerous chips in the childhood Burroughs describes: an alcoholic father, an unstable mother who gives him up for adoption to her therapist, and an adolescence spent as part of the therapist's eccentric extended family, gobbling prescription meds and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and a pedophile who lives in a shed out back. But just as he dreamed of doing with that old table, Burroughs employs a vigorous program of decoration and fervent polishing to a life that many would have simply thrown in a landfill. Despite her abandonment, he never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother. And rather than despair about his lot, he glamorizes it: planning a "beauty empire" and performing an a capella version of "You Light Up My Life" at a local mental ward. Burroughs's perspective achieves a crucial balance for a memoir: emotional but not self-involved, observant but not clinical, funny but not deliberately comic. And it's ultimately a feel-good story: as he steers through a challenging childhood, there's always a sense that Burroughs's survivor mentality will guide him through and that the coffee table will be salvaged after all. --John Moe (from Amazon)(less)
As trained hospice volunteers visiting homes and nursing facilities in upstate New York, Katz and Izzy bring comfort and canine companionship to peopl...moreAs trained hospice volunteers visiting homes and nursing facilities in upstate New York, Katz and Izzy bring comfort and canine companionship to people who most need it. An eighty-year-old Alzheimer’s patient smiles for the first time in months when she feels Izzy’s soft fur. A retired logger joyfully remembers his own beloved dog when he sees Izzy. As Izzy bonds with patients and Katz focuses on their families, the author begins to come to terms with his own life, discovering dark realities he has never confronted. Meanwhile, Lenore–quickly dubbed the Hound of Love–arrives at Bedlam. Her genial personality and boundless capacity for affection steer Katz out of the shadows, rekindle his love of working with dogs, and restore his connection to the farm and the animals and people around him.
Humorous and deeply moving, Izzy & Lenore is a story of a man confronting his past, embracing the blessings of his current life, and rediscovering the meaning of friendship, family, and faith. Katz shares an uplifting tale of love, compassion, and the rich and complex relationships between dogs and their humans.(less)
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, Church defined religion as "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die." The goal o...moreAs a Unitarian Universalist minister, Church defined religion as "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die." The goal of life, he tells us "is to live in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for." This last book in his impressive oeuvre is imbued with ideas and exemplars for achieving that goal. The stories he offers—drawn from his own experiences and from the lives of his friends, family, and parishioners—are both engrossing and enlightening.
"Love & Death is transformative. I was not prepared for the power of this splendid, soaring book. It totally captured me." —Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Creating a Life (less)