Memoirs from Annabelle Gurwitch, Dan Jenkins, Diane Von Furstenberg, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Mar. 2014, Pt. 3

Berman, Matt. JFK Jr., George, and Me: A Memoir. Gallery. Mar. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781451697018. $26. MEMOIR
Berman currently runs his own advertising agency, Picture Book, but in 1995 he was hired by John Kennedy Jr., to serve as the creative director of George magazine. Here he recounts his relationship with JFK Jr., both personal and professional.

Gurwitch, Annabelle. I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50. Blue Rider. Mar. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780399166181. $25.95. HUMOR/MEMOIR
You’ll know actor/comedian Gurwitch from Dinner and a Movie on TBS and from her appearances on Seinfeld, Boston Legal, and elsewhere. You’ll also recognize her as the author of You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up (with husband Jeff Kahn) and Fired! (about an unfortunate experience working with Woody Allen). Here she considers life at 50 (probably not the new 40), as she picks through antiaging creams at the department store counter and faces the assisted suicide of a friend. Funny in a cutting way.

Jenkins, Dan. His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir. Doubleday. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780385532259. $26.95. MEMOIR
This memoir by high-profile sportswriter Jenkins isn’t just a nostalgia trip from Depression-era childhood through his high school paper days to work at Sports Illustrated and play at New York City’s nightlife venues. It’s also an account of sportswriting itself.

Mutch, Maria. Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781476702742. $25. MEMOIR
Canadian Mutch is already a triple-threat author, having published poems, essays, and short fiction. Here she draws on her evident writing talents to discuss the nights she spent exploring the universe with son Gabriel, an autistic child with Down Syndrome who suffered through a bad period of sleeplessness. In-house enthusiasm for this affecting, lyrical tale.

Ringer, Jennifer. Dancing Through It. Viking. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780670026494. $27.95. MEMOIR
A principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Ringer was put through the ringer a few years back when New York Times dance critic made scalding comments about her weight when reviewing a performance of The Nutcracker, commenting that she looked as if she had had one sugarplum too many. That launched a nationwide conversation about the fraught issue of dance and weight, which Ringer participated in and addresses here, even as she ranges widely over her life as a dancer.

Von Furstenberg, Diane. The Woman I Wanted To Be. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781451651546. $30. MEMOIR
Fashion maven for decades and purveyor of the famous wrap dress, Von Furstenberg is someone lots of women have wanted to be. Here she discusses her childhood in Brussels, her life jet-setting around, and more.

Wall, Carol. Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Mar. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780399157981. $25.95. MEMOIR
Wall, a white woman with grown children who had survived illness and was now contemplating her next move, happened to notice a black man working hard in a neighbor’s yard. Giles Owita, who had come from Kenya and bagged groceries to make ends meet, was soon cleaning up Wall’s yard, too. They became friends, bonding over secrets they’ve both hidden, and the result is this much-touted memoir.

Weber, Bruce. Life Is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America. Scribner. Mar. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781451695014. $26. MEMOIR
Weber, who has ranged widely at the New York Times, where he has worked since 1986, also ranged widely when he decided on some wish fulfillment at age 57 and bicycled cross-country, from Oregon to the George Washington Bridge. Both memoir and travelog; with a five-city tour to Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, and Portland, OR, though perhaps not by bicycle.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.