An eclectic, exciting collection of photos infused with a wandering curiosity.

LE FLÂNEUR

In this book of photographs taken in various states and countries, a man embraces the “flâneur” spirit and presents the vivid subjects encountered on his aimless explorations.

In a brief but effective artist statement, Labry reveals how he got his start: as photography manager for the Texas House of Representatives, where part of his job was “to unobtrusively chronicle the members’ interactions in the House Chamber.” The instrument responsible, a Leica M series film camera, also took the pictures that make up this collection. Years ago, the author dubbed his trusted camera “Nola” in honor of his beloved hometown. While many places are represented in these photos—Berlin, Paris, Texas, Ireland—none is more lovingly and vibrantly captured than New Orleans. “Some of my earliest childhood memories are of natural light,” Labry writes, and his description of the city’s particular glow suggests that there’s no better birthplace for an aspiring photographer. In these 89 photos, he returns again and again to art as a subject. Photos capture murals, paintings, and graffiti, but images of statuary persist throughout the collection. “Statue of Andrew Jackson,” “Statue of Professor Longhair,” “Statue of Slave Girl,” “Statue of Ignatius J. Reilly” are just some Labry has included. Seeing as the artist has already produced a book of photos of Joan of Arc statuary, this is clearly an abiding interest for him. But the images of people are the true standouts. “Fast Food” and “Jackson Square” both capture folks slumped on benches; “French Quarter” shows a man playing a guitar on a stoop. “Mardi Gras” depicts an older man and a young boy intimately conferring in what looks like the bed of a truck. These beautiful images are evidence of Labry’s excellent eye for human figures and how they occupy space and frame. In this volume, the living are more exciting subjects than the inanimate. The author writes: “All photographs are as much or more about their creator than the thing photographed.” These works tell readers their creator is a keen and compassionate observer of a city’s human denizens.

An eclectic, exciting collection of photos infused with a wandering curiosity.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 99

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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