Ideal for those who find the concept of a news conference for a gay Central Park carriage horse hilarious, but the humor may...

Everything's Wront


From debut author Smith comes a collection of short comedy pieces.

What might it be like to work closely with New Jersey governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie? As the narrator explains, “I’d like to think I’m his friend, but I know I’m not. Food is this guy’s friend.” What might the contents of Osama bin Laden’s diary be like? As bin Laden laments, “I can only get pornography by courier on flash drives…it is so old the last one starred Betty White.” What about “masterpieces of self-publishing” like Tollbooths by Earl Slavin, which consists of “An exhaustive survey of tollbooths from fabled trolls to modern RFID readers”? Exploring these and other such whimsical considerations, the reader is taken on a kooky journey through the silly (proposed “Jewish/American combined holidays” include “Oy, the Labor Day” and “Thankshavuot Day”) and the bawdy (such as the chapter entitled “How You Can Tell If Your Gynecologist Is Secretly Filming You”). Reminiscent of Jack Handey and other “Shouts & Murmurs” contributors, the book targets an audience comfortable with puns, flights of fancy, and fare less likely to see the pages of a publication like the New Yorker. Will the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” portend the loss of the rank of “rear admiral” and the substitution of Brazilian waxing for waterboarding? How far might the Christie campaign get with slogans like “Frosting You Can Believe In” and “Two Chickens on Every Plate”? Rooted very much in the present, many jokes may not age well. Readers, however, annoyed by Citi Bikes, Hamid Karzai, and Donald Trump will have found an author to articulate such concerns, even if those concerns may not last. Brief, the pieces move quickly throughout, providing the opportunity to get through the entirety in an afternoon or less.

Ideal for those who find the concept of a news conference for a gay Central Park carriage horse hilarious, but the humor may not be universal.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-23072-5

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Prime Prods Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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