Memoirs of Grief and Hope| Social Sciences Reviews

Trent Preszler uncovers family heirlooms in Little and Often. Paris Without Her by Gregory Curtis explores the depths of grief. Lorenzo Carcaterra's Three Dreamers is a reflective story of family.

Three DreamersCarcaterra, Lorenzo. Three Dreamers. Ballantine. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780593156711. Tr. $28. MEMOIR
Known for crime thrillers set in the Italian-American underworld that his father inhabited, Carcaterra tells in this memoir of the women in his life to whom he owes his inspiration and success. His mother and grandmother were from Ischia, off the coast of Naples, and his summers spent there with his grandmother were his one refuge from his parents’ disastrous marriage. Having lived through severe privations and strain in World War II, she treats him with a level of respect for his potential that he received nowhere else. His mother’s story is chilling, and her relationship with Carcaterra leaves many unanswered questions even as he obviously values it. His wife was a successful newspaper reporter and taught him the art of writing as they fell in love. Their partnership provides the calm missing from his life, and her early death devastates. The author’s storytelling is engaging and his love obvious, yet the inner lives and motivations of his subjects remain elusive, beyond their effect on him. VERDICT Fans of Carcaterra's novels and reporting will appreciate the background on his life and inspiration, and this reflective memoir gives nuance to the dark world he portrays in his novels.—Margaret Heller, Loyola Univ. Chicago Libs

Paris Without Her Curtis, Gregory. Paris Without Her. Knopf. Apr. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780525657620. $26.95. MEMOIR
In this latest work, Curtis (The Cave Painters) takes readers along on his various journeys to Paris and its unique charm. Yet it is a story of grief, remembering his wife, after her death from cancer. Under the effects of time and love, memories of humdrum daily life are taken over by the glittering moments, of which this couple had many. They took any chance to steal away from their everyday life and travel to Paris, and the author continues to do so, often with the memory of his wife traveling alongside him. Written with sometimes spontaneous prose as memories resurface from time to time, as well as with clear-eyed recollections, this captivating book will delight readers by sweeping them from locale to locale within the City of Light. Curtis's personal anecdotes and historic tidbits are written with a genuine tenderness and journalistic eye throughout. VERDICT Although slated as a memoir, this touching work is just as much a love story and travel diary. It processes the pain of loss through the lens of beautiful scenery and will appeal to many readers, but especially fellow Francophiles eager to follow the road less traveled.—Kelly Karst, California Inst. of Integral Studies

Little and OftenPreszler, Trent. Little and Often. Morrow. Apr. 2021. 304p. 9780062976642. $26.99. MEMOIR
The most precious family heirlooms can be everyday items. For debut author Preszler, his father's battered toolbox, full of farming tools and other items, helped him make sense of their relationship. Preszler grew up in rural South Dakota, and his father was a rancher, former rodeo star, and Vietnam vet. The author writes with raw honesty about the closeness he shared with his father as a child, and how they became estranged over the years, moreseo after Preszler's college graduation. The author moved on to run a boutique winery on Long Island. His father battled cancer, probably brought on by Agent Orange exposure. Shortly before he died, he insisted that Preszler take his toolbox. Inspired to build a canoe by the first anniversary of his father's death, Preszler used many of the tools in the toolbox. Life lessons imparted by his father when they were closean emotional toolbox of sortsalso sustained him during the painstaking work. Alternating details of canoe building with reflections on his past, Preszler finds solace in the art of woodworking. VERDICT A thoughtful and well-written memoir, this book will appeal to readers who have difficult relationships with family and those who find craftwork healing.—Laurie Unger Skinner, Highland Park P.L., IL

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