"A winsome character sketch that celebrates a homeless man’s quirky personality and picaresque life story"– Kirkus Reviews
A winsome character sketch that celebrates a homeless man’s quirky personality and picaresque life story.
Richard Musto, an 87-year-old homeless man living on Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, is a Runyonesque figure who has a jumble of colorful memories and habits. He’s a fastidious housekeeper, carefully keeping his milk-crate–and-cardboard campsite ship-shape and his patch of sidewalk clean and mopped; a dapper dresser in black beret and American-flag cravat; an amateur expert on military history and cinema, always happy to act out a scene; a cigar-smoking bon vivant and incorrigible ladies’ man, always ready with witticisms for the Hooters gals; and a clear thinker with an acerbic take on the world (sample pensée: “A lot of guys / stop to ask me / what’s the secret of life / and I’ll say to them / how the hell should I know”). Lamport, bemused by Musto, spent many an evening hanging out and recording the man’s back story, which included combat in World War II, many knockabout jobs, an enduring passion for the ponies, a sexless marriage and countless adventures in cross-dressing and BDSM, which, he claims, began with the nuns at his grammar school. (One of Musto’s more improbable sideline career jags was as a ladies’ maid and lingerie model.) The author tells Musto’s tale in limpid, engaging free verse, which suits the narrative’s offbeat content and poetic mood; along the way, he sprinkles in atmospheric odes to the bustling New York streetscape, along with somewhat overdone stanzas invoking the muse. The portrait also has some dark edges, including an ugly family feud that makes Musto “all the more human in his monstrosity.” Musto appears in Michel Delsol’s arresting black-and-white photographs looking like an elfin version of an Easter Island statue. Overall, Musto emerges as a resilient survivor, weathering the obliteration of his camp by city workers with a soft curse and plucky aplomb. The result is a heartening lesson on “How to live life in extremis / Yet to the fullest.”
A romanticized but beguiling saga of one man’s life on the streets.
This first volume of Hua’s uplifting English translation of Wu Cheng’en’s classic Chinese epic chronicles the early life of the Taoist superhero Monkey King.
The story’s titular hero is a primate born from a mysterious stone egg on the Mountain of Fruit and Flowers in the Kingdom of Ao Lai. The young ape soon finds residence with a group of monkeys. After winning the monkeys’ respect, the ape is elected king and leads his subjects to a paradisiacal new home: the Cave of the Watery Veil. Here he rules peacefully over his adoring troop for many years, until one day he yearns for spiritual knowledge as well as immortality. He sets out on a solitary quest in the world of men; making his way through great cities, he learns human speech but is disheartened by humanity’s lust for wealth and fame. Finally, he finds his way to the Cave of the Three Stars and the Slanting Moon—the home of an immortal master and his disciples. Master Zu is at first bemused by the ape’s hopes of spiritual enlightenment, but he eventually finds that the ape’s will and perception are unlike those of any other disciple he’s ever known. The ape is given the new spiritual name of Sun Wu Kong and learns great powers at the knee of his master before being sent back to his kingdom. There he discovers that an evil demon has taken control; to defeat him, he must match the demon’s powers. Hua gives this illustrated translation of an age-old story a contemporary edge and urgent pace, and, overall, he delivers a laconic, jovial tale. “Nothing is hard for those who remain strong of heart and undeterred,” observes Monkey King’s master, and that philosophy lies at the heart of this simple yet inspirational story.
An engaging translation which will delight adults and children alike.