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Cursed by a Happy Childhood: Tales of Growing Up, Then and Now [Kindle Edition]

Carl Lennertz
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Cursed by a Happy Childhood is a warm, funny, bighearted collection of one dad’s reminiscences about the kinds of lessons we all learn--sometimes the hard way, often without even realizing it--on the road to becoming a grown-up. The book began as a diary of sorts that Carl Lennertz wanted to keep for his eleven-year-old daughter, a way to let her know that he understood something about being a child and dealing with the milestones she would soon be approaching as a teenager.

As Carl began to write, he realized that his stories--of friendship and cliques, fitting in while being yourself (a neat trick!), music and books, first job and first love, teachers and other role models--are stories we all share and are as poignant and recognizable to parents and adults as they would be to his daughter. The book soon grew into a keenly observed, deeply felt reflection on the ways we’re all pretty much the same despite the obvious differences demanded by our stations in life--old or young, parent or child, male or female. Who, after all, ever really gets control of their inner kaleidoscopic mix of hopefulness, vulnerability, silliness, uncertainty, ambition . . . and fear of looking dorky in front of the cool kids?

Cursed by a Happy Childhood is rich with vignettes of youth and life that point to truths larger than the stories themselves. Most make us smile, a few make us wince, and all epitomize the power of memory to entertain, educate, and affect. The lesson that Carl learned--which we can all learn through his gently humorous and sometimes profound words--is that the little moments are the big moments, and that we can and should enjoy our own stories and take heart in the magic way they have of helping us feel a little closer, a little stronger, and a little happier to face each day.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a project begun as a diary for his 11-year-old daughter, publishing vet Lennertz, currently HarperCollins's marketing v-p, chronicles his "safe, fun, basic childhood" in the 1960s in a small, rural town on Long Island. Writing in brief, epistolary chapters that revolve around themes like cliques, summer jobs, comic books and television shows, Lennertz routinely draws parallels between his experiences and those of his daughter, a modern kid coming of age in the city. Lighthearted and nostalgic, the book is written for two audiences: Lennertz's fellow baby boomers and their preteen kids, in terms that can be digested easily by both. Like all parents, Lennertz struggles between protecting his daughter and giving her a sense of independence, as when he allows her to take a first unchaperoned walk around the neighborhood. In this episode, he comments, "kids actually do want parents to be clear about what the boundaries are and to help them shape and understand their world," and he recognizes that these borders become more difficult to define as children get older. Lennertz is comfortable bending the rules of proper child-rearing, as when he proclaims, "Thank goodness for television... how could any parent get by without it?" He also finds humor in family quagmires, as when he dresses up as Barney the Dinosaur for his daughter's second birthday party only to terrify two of her young guests. Acknowledging the "Norman Rockwellian" nature of his childhood experiences, Lennertz still addresses universal truths about parenting and growing up. This is a charming meditation on the imperfect art of raising children.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Sweet nostalgia . . . A perfect gift for Father’s Day.” —USA Today

“Heartfelt . . . Entertains . . . Enlightens.” —Miami Herald

“This leisurely book celebrates the timeless . . . Will strike a chord with readers.” —Times Picayune (New Orleans)

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1552 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (May 4, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1LUG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,941,020 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Instructional and Entertaining Read May 15, 2004
Recently, as the result of a number of circumstances, I've been woolgathering about the past, specifically my childhood and teenage years. Maybe I've spent too much time on it, but it's something I've needed to do. It is somewhat ironic then that CURSED BY A HAPPY CHILDHOOD should be published now. After reading it for the last few hours I've felt as if Carl Lennertz, its author, has been tapping into my thoughts. I'm sure I won't be alone in feeling this way.
CURSED BY A HAPPY CHILDHOOD is Lennertz's first published work. It consists of short pieces, most of them no more than 2-3 pages in length, which began as a kind of diary for his preteen daughter. The result is a mix of childhood memoirs from the 1950s and 1960s, observations and advice. One of its many strengths is its simplicity; you don't have to be a rocket scientist to read Lennertz. You do, however, have to pay attention. Lennertz has a conversational style that is closer to listening to a friend discuss a far-off yet familiar land than a lecture from an elder about what's what. Another of Lennertz's strengths is his lack of pretension. He realizes that while things may be different "now" from the way they were "then," there are valuable life lessons that are as applicable in the present as they were in the past.
I had so many favorite pieces in CURSED BY A HAPPY CHILDHOOD that I can't mention them all. Of the ones that hit home the hardest, I probably laughed the most at "The Great Books Versus the Great Comic Books" because of a conversation I had recently with a friend. He asked me who I considered to be the best authors. I listed Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy and Larry Brown.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Must Read!! May 11, 2004
By George
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How can you not pick up a book with a title this great? And what a blessed relief it is to finally read a memoir in which the author has not spent half his life on a therapist's couch because of something his parents may have said to him when he was five years old!
Author Carl Lennertz has written a marvelous collection of wise and witty essays that compare his near-idyllic childhood in a small town on Long Island in the 1960's to the hurly-burly of raising a young pre-teen daughter in present-day New York City. For anyone who grew up in America during the 1960's, this book contains a veritable cornucopia of immediately recognizable impressions, experiences and events from that memorable era. And anyone who has ever been (or plans to be) a parent will find comfort, laughter and pure delight in Lennertz's often hilarious (and instructive) conclusions about the fine art of childrearing.
Lennertz sometimes rants but he never whines, and the rants are invariably amusing and frequently insightful. He often concentrates on the smaller joys in life -- the delights of eating corn on the cob, of spending a day at the beach, of bodysurfing the perfect wave, of afternoons spent exploring on bicycle, of going to that first big league baseball game. He reminds us of the "particular and peculiar pleasure of moving a record player arm up and over, of putting the needle down, just so, at the edge of a large vinyl disk, and of hearing that slight hiss in the thin slice of time before the first song."
In the end, it is the wholesome small town values that Lennertz came to appreciate years after growing up that now inform his deliberations as a father.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If there were more stars, I would've awarded them, too!!! September 23, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A delightful book! Mr. Lennertz has managed (with great fluidity) to touch on so many of the joys, fears, and rites-of-passage of childhood in the sixties, and place them in the perspective of today's parenting challenges. Being a kid isn't really all that different now, despite the apparent changes in the world. Not to mislead, this not a 'how-to' book; the author does not pretend to have the 'answer'. But, if you are a parent, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that, as you share the colorful stories woven by Mr. Lennertz in this book, some of your own answers emerge! Enjoy it, and enjoy your children!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, Entertaining, Nostalgic February 5, 2012
"Cursed by a Happy Childhood" is a memoir about growing up on the eastern end of Long Island (the North Fork), 100 miles east of Manhattan, in a rural setting. (This is not the Long Island of suburban/urban Nassau County, but of a far more rural, sheltered place, east of the corn fields and north of the touristed Hamptons.) The author wrote the memoir as a series of vignettes filled with both reflections on his own mostly innocent childhood paired with advice for his own tween-aged daughter. It is sweet, largely positive, and endearing. The ten-page postscript is the largest detractor of this book: it appears to have been written separately from the rest of the memoir (perhaps an earlier, shorter version), often repeating vignettes, examples, and phrasing from earlier in the book; it seems to have been incorporated last minute and appears to have escaped the red ink of the editor as there are numerous typos. Read the book, but skip the last 10 pages.
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