Silly and unabashedly puerile travel tales.

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TRAVELER'S DIARRHEA

A world traveler publishes his humorous diaries.  

“I’m not a real writer. A real writer I am not….The last thing I wrote of substance was a play I made my fifth-grade class perform,” says debut author Bombeck in an opening author’s note. This statement, coupled with an inexpertly presented shot of the author’s face grinning manically from inside a toilet bowl, should prepare readers for the tongue-in-cheek work that follows. Drawing on journals written in the 1980s, Bombeck promises “True travel stories guaranteed to cause abdominal cramps, nausea, exploding stools, and occasional bloating.” The book’s six chapters, illustrated with photographs, cover an impressive amount of territory, including a 90-day trip around the world that Bombeck took in 1981, during which he visited Honolulu, Tokyo, New Delhi, Rome, and Paris. He also chronicles his time in the Peace Corps in Liberia in 1982, along with other journeys through North Africa, India, and on the Inca Trail in South America. The focus of many of Bombeck’s anecdotes centers on a desire to forge relationships with the opposite sex. In a remembrance of a trip to Western Samoa, he writes, “I was a lonely man who’d do or say anything to meet a beautiful woman”; he proceeded to take a photograph of a local posing “like a Vanity Fair model,” so that he could brag to his friends about his “make-believe” girlfriend. The accounts also display a fascination with all things scatological. While recalling Calcutta, Bombeck notes that “Most toilets in India are squat toilets with foot imprints showing exactly where to stand to piss and poop. Even with the imprints, I miss the target!” Later, he writes of having diarrhea in an elevator in Vienna: “Against all instincts, I couldn’t hold it, and everything exploded inside my pants!” Some readers will find this approach to be crude and childish in tone, but others will split their sides with laughter. The humor is generally affable, although Bombeck’s use of the term “spaz” may cross a line of acceptability for some. Overall, this collection of travel stories doesn’t rival Bill Bryson’s, although some asides are amusingly absurd.

Silly and unabashedly puerile travel tales.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984532-80-0

Page Count: 244

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2018

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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