Silly and unabashedly puerile travel tales.


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.



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 fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates.


An epic cradle-to-grave biography of the king of pop art from Gopnik (co-author: Warhol Women, 2019), who served as chief art critic for the Washington Post and the art and design critic for Newsweek.

With a hoarder’s zeal, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) collected objects he liked until shopping bags filled entire rooms of his New York town house. Rising to equal that, Gopnik’s dictionary-sized biography has more than 7,000 endnotes in its e-book edition and drew on some 100,000 documents, including datebooks, tax returns, and letters to lovers and dealers. With the cooperation of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the author serves up fresh details about almost every aspect of Warhol’s life in an immensely enjoyable book that blends snappy writing with careful exegeses of the artist’s influences and techniques. Warhol exploded into view in his mid-40s with his pop art paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans and silkscreens of Elvis and Marilyn. However, fame didn’t banish lifelong anxieties heightened by an assassination attempt that left him so fearful he bought bulletproof eyeglasses. After the pop successes, Gopnik writes, Warhol’s life was shaped by a consuming desire “to climb back onto that cutting edge,” which led him to make experimental films, launch Interview magazine, and promote the Velvet Underground. At the same time, Warhol yearned “for fine, old-fashioned love and coupledom,” a desire thwarted by his shyness and his awkward stance toward his sexuality—“almost but never quite out,” as Gopnik puts it. Although insightful in its interpretations of Warhol’s art, this biography is sure to make waves with its easily challenged claims that Warhol revealed himself early on “as a true rival of all the greats who had come before” and that he and Picasso may now occupy “the top peak of Parnassus, beside Michelangelo and Rembrandt and their fellow geniuses.” Any controversy will certainly befit a lodestar of 20th-century art who believed that “you weren’t doing much of anything as an artist if you weren’t questioning the most fundamental tenets of what art is and what artists can do.”

A fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229839-3

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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