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 zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.



A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven.

Turn-of-the century New York did not lack either hotels or apartment buildings, writes Tippins (February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof In Wartime America, 2005). But the Chelsea Hotel, from its very inception, was different. Architect Philip Hubert intended the elegantly designed Chelsea Association Building to reflect the utopian ideals of Charles Fourier, offering every amenity conducive to cooperative living: public spaces and gardens, a dining room, artists’ studios, and 80 apartments suitable for an economically diverse population of single workers, young couples, small families and wealthy residents who otherwise might choose to live in a private brownstone. Hubert especially wanted to attract creative types and made sure the building’s walls were extra thick so that each apartment was quiet enough for concentration. William Dean Howells, Edgar Lee Masters and artist John Sloan were early residents. Their friends (Mark Twain, for one) greeted one another in eight-foot-wide hallways intended for conversations. In its early years, the Chelsea quickly became legendary. By the 1930s, though, financial straits resulted in a “down-at-heel, bohemian atmosphere.” Later, with hard-drinking residents like Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan, the ambience could be raucous. Arthur Miller scorned his free-wheeling, drug-taking, boozy neighbors, admitting, though, that the “great advantage” to living there “was that no one gave a damn what anyone else chose to do sexually.” No one passed judgment on creativity, either. But the art was not what made the Chelsea famous; its residents did. Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Robert Mapplethorpe, Phil Ochs and Sid Vicious are only a few of the figures populating this entertaining book.

A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-618-72634-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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