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HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH: Lessons for Success from a Red-Dirt Road in Alabama: A MEMOIR ~Ruthi Postow Birch

Monday, July 24th, 2017

HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH is a delightful memoir written by a woman who is a self made success.  She always wanted to do something special and she wanted to be wealthy – and Ruthi Postow Birch did just that.

This book is just full to the brim with wonderful anecdotes and pieces of advise about how to build success. Start with being born right at the poverty line and using every piece of wisdom you are surrounded by to achieve your goals in life.  I will say for the author who enjoys poetry very much the words and tales found here are straight up for real, the extra adjective is not available nor is the metaphor a tool of play.  There is lots of humor and compassion and discovery in the telling of a life and it was a pleasure to read.

“Get an education, get off Petain Street, and amount to something.” (Daddy Postow)

The author takes all the small things she learned as a little girl and points to how they helped her achieve a full and successful life.  She loved to listen to the stories the people told on her street and she ascribes much of her future to those listening skills and compassion that developed her skill set for starting her own business.  She never abandoned her parent’s lessons and used them as her strength and courage to keep moving forward.  As a matter of fact she left the dorms in college to move back into her parent’s home in Georgia and this provided a foundation for her to discover her own learning style and succeed in college with honors.   She did not come back to her parent’s wisdom; she never gave it up and learned the lessons forward.   Her father was a tugboat captain and her mother was a grocery store clerk and a union representative (fierce southern woman)

One of her father’s first and most lasting lessons was that there is always a right first step and if you can find that first step you are on your way to succeed.   It was the right lesson the building  of a piano bench for a young daughter, who was not going to be a successful pianist or musician, but was going to be a successful builder.  Her parents were open to people and experiences and worked to give their youngest child a broad view of the place where she was located.

Ruthi Postow Birch was not a mistake free person, and it took her several tries to find the right first step to a family and a career.  She stumbled into her first job and shouted out that she loved “cold calling” and then became the queen of cold calling! It was from all those years of listening and hearing the stories of the folks on her street in Alabama that made her unafraid when the other’s hated this task.  She was successful because she truly heard what the person on the phone was saying to her and she was able to make a connection.

After she graduated from college a Psychologist friend helped her discover that Ruthi had A.D.D. and with that knowledge and study Ruthi was able to design her new business finding a partner who did the tasks that were difficult for her and polishing and shining up the parts where she excelled.  She found a way to take risks and use them to her advantage when she looked for the first right step.

One very good book sent to me for review by Larissa Ackerman

More about the author:

“ Ruthi Postow Birch is a successful business woman, author, and speaker who has made people her life’s work.  In 2001, she founded Ruthi Postow Staffing, recruiting temporary and permanent employees for businesses in the DC area.  She is the mother of three boys and currently lives in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Ron, their Wheaten terrier, Mr. Magoo, and a family of chimney swifts that return every spring to nest in their 18th –century chimney.”

www.RUTHIPOSTOWBIRCH.com

Related:
Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life
Dressing a Tiger
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Sand

I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU: A Humorous Memoir With Fiction ~Clinton Kelly

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Best known for his work on WHAT NOT TO WEAR and as the moderator on THE CHEW, Clinton Kelly is well regarded for his humor and style.  NET GALLEY sent me an e-copy of his new book I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU for review and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it – laughing all the way!

I have only had television in my life for the past year, and so I must say that this is my first contact with Mr. Kelly and it was wonderful.  All the New Yorker glam and then the early years of growing up on Long Island where he threw his “baby” sister up in the air to encourage her cheer-leading career, just started me laughing until I lost my cool sophistication and my tea leaked out my nose.   No eating while reading this one.

His essay about going to Sweden when he was worried about Ted Cruz winning the election made me want to join him. Clinton Kelly truly enjoys food and that was a very interesting part of each of the essays.  The language is often “off colored” and “sexy” and very east coast confident.  Throughout the book, the sex scenes are not detailed they are just suggested – No kiss and tell.  Mary his terrier pup must be having a spectacular life; they couldn’t choose Australia because there is a 6-month quarantine to bring a dog with you.  I learned a number of new things and what! A Mud Bath (Amazon called it ‘death by mud bath’) – well I never knew any of that!

In the essay about 1980s pornography and high school experiences, I was relieved to see that homosexuality was not as closeted as it was for my location and generation.  I have to believe that my days of high school had to be so much more horrid for the “gay” community than Kelly’s time even though it sounded fairly miserable also.

At a time where “hate” is truly surfacing in pure ugliness, I am hoping Clinton Kelly can keep folks laughing and sharing the more important moments of life. I believe when one can laugh and teach about life, one brings hope and joy to our flawed spaces.  I can highly recommend this book, be prepared for the language and lifestyle issues and I am sure you will laugh too when you read I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU.

“Kelly was born in Panama City, Panama, of Irish and Italian ancestry, and raised in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island, New York. He graduated from Comsewogue High School in 1987. He attended Boston College and graduated with a degree in communications in 1991; he was president of Boston College’s University Chorale. After college, he attained his master’s degree in journalism, specializing in magazine publishing, from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1993” ( Wikipedia)

Clinton Kelly Facebook
Clinton Kelly Web

Related:
Night Ringing
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ADOLFO KAMINSKY A FORGER’S LIFE: A Memoir ~Sarah Kaminsky (Translated by Mike Mitchell)

Monday, November 21st, 2016

“Already published in six languages to a global audience, ADOLFO KAMINSKY A FORGER’S LIFE, critics have called it riveting, thrilling, precise and touching, written like one of the best spy novels, and one of the most captivating books of the year.”(From publicity sheet – Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.  www.mzpr.com )

Imagine a young boy, a Russian Jew exiled to Argentina and now immigrating to France with his family as the Nazi regime is taking over the countryside.  The boy is allowed some time to attend school and he becomes fascinated with chemistry – helped by a Pharmacist he is able to study and learn.  Then his mother dies, and he must go to work as a dyer (coloring fabric) and here he learns even more chemistry.  The family is rounded up and confined but their Argentinian paperwork keeps them from being shipped to the death camps.  Adolfo Kaminsky is now sixteen and alone and as he finds his way he is brought into the resistance movement and learns how to forge papers and passports.  He learns how to create the machines they need to print the documents and how to age and distress the paper and the forms.

He is also learning photography and development of film.  He worked underground with a team and is meticulous about not being followed and remained invisible.  He was never arrested over his career though he did have to dash away a number of times and move his point of operations many times.  He would not take any money for his efforts and work – never paid.  He was always inventing and selling his photographs as a front to keep going.   He created paperwork for the homeless concentration camps survivors to enter Palestine and create settlements.  When WWII was over his efforts continued for the next thirty years to help all oppressed people, including the Algerian Freedom Fighters even Pacifists in the United States during the Viet Nam War.

Sarah Kaminsky, the youngest daughter, listened to her father dictate this story when he was nearly 80 years old.  They as a team were able to meet and interview many of the people who were part of the story.  When the book was published, the team of father and daughter began to speak at schools and tell the story to young people who were the same age as the young boy who taught himself chemistry and learned how to forge all the paperwork.  This is a riveting story of a non-violent hero of a huge war and a self-effacing, creative voice for the oppressed.  It is a best seller in eleven countries and is now translated into English.

“Sarah Kaminsky (b.1979 in Sidi M’hamed, Algeria) is a French actor, screenwriter and author.  She was three years old when she immigrated to France with her father Adolfo, who is of Russian Jewish origins, carrying an Argentinean passport, and with her mother Lei..la, a Tuareg Algerian.  Sarah Kaminsky is currently employed as a screenwriter at several production companies in France.  She lives in Paris.”

“Mike Mitchell (b. Rochdale, England) has been active as a translator from German-English and French-English for over thirty years.  He is the recipient of the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translations of German works published in Britain, has won the British Comparative Literature Association translation competition three times, and has been shortlisted for numerous other awards.  In 2012 the Austrian Ministry of Education, Art and Culture awarded him a lifetime achievement award as a translator of literary works.  He lives in Scotland.”

This book was a remarkable read and on the top of my list to share with others.

Related
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Autumn in Oxford
The Boys in the Boat
Sarah Kaminsky TED Talk
Sarah Kaminsky Wikipedia

DRESSING A TIGER: A memoir ~Maggie San Miguel

Monday, October 10th, 2016

dressing-a-tigerDRESSING A TIGER is not a plain Ol’ memoir with a bit of spicing up, this is about a very interesting and sometimes disturbing life story mixed with a heavy dose of humor and a very spunky child who remembers so much.  Maggie is the youngest child in her family – much younger; her brother is 18 and her sister 16 when she arrives onto the scene.  Mom is fairly unstable and inconsistent and has almost no time for her youngest and Dad is a very busy man as the top negotiator for the Teamsters Union.  Maggie is not allowed to play in the front yard of their Connecticut home but the huge backyard with lake and below ground tree fort commands her attention.  Maggie loves to row her boat out to her private island and seize the day.

“Maggie San Miguel is a Past Life Regression Therapist, a Mediation Instructor and a Psychic Medium, appearing on the paranormal television show, STRANGE TOWN.  She has assisted law enforcement with a murder investigation in Texas.  She also makes pottery, paints and can cook a mean meatball.” (Cover)

Maggie San Miguel Facebook
Maggie San Miguel Web

The book is quite interesting and includes geishas’ in Maggie’s rowboat, and mob hit men taking a 4 year old to the dentist.  Because of their reclusive lifestyle, Maggie dotes on the “friends” of her father who come to the house to plot, drink and eat.  Jack Dahlstrom, her father, though of a Scandinavian heritage, learns to speak Italian and interact with the Italian families involved in controlling the East Coast.  His friends are folks he connected with during his time serving in World War II.  His wife a great redheaded beauty grew up in poverty and led a very tough life. When the stress levels were too high, she disappeared into alcohol and bed, including strange behaviors especially trying to kill squirrels.

“A father serving the Mob, hit men moonlighting as babysitters, an uncle in the Secret Service, famous politicians amongst family friends, a mother in need of shock therapy, and a kid who eavesdrops and remember it all. “  What a unique childhood!

“Her father’s prior knowledge of the Kennedy assassination and his unique friendships with Jack Ruby, John Connally, Henry Wade and infamous Mafia bosses Carlo Bambino, Sam Giancana and Paul Castellano is a story untold until now.” “…Dahlstrom collected an impressive array of friends and Mafia secrets that were never meant to see the light of day.  Maggie San Miguel has just opened the blinds.” (Cover)

I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and think it will make a wonderful book to share.  I highly recommend it and am grateful that Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.  sent me an advanced copy for review.

This book will be published October 26, 2016

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Natchez Burning
Fixed in Blood
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice