An often upbeat set of spirited senior reflections.

OUR AUTUMN YEARS

NOT GOLDEN BUT INTERESTING

A generously illustrated look at old age.

Hartz continues his series of books, including Inconvenient Truths About Relationships (2019), which provide readers with friendly, jovial ruminations on aspects of everyday life. This slim volume looks at the joys, frustrations, and puckish humor of growing old. The author uses the talents of returning artists Jovic, Wolfe, and Ramos to explore various facets of old age, such as “Life With an Old Brain,” “Doctors and Illness,” “Old Versus Young,” and even “At the End.” Hartz makes the wise decision to get out of the way of the art; his narration is appealingly minimal, although memorable. The many black-and-white line drawings are occasionally supplemented with that narration (presented on dramatic, stylized scrolls to underscore the book’s ruling ethos of asking readers to lighten up a bit), and it ranges from the pointed (“We don’t give credit to those skilled at dying. We don’t even notice them”) to the philosophical (“The waking state and the sleeping state fuse with age”) to the wryly humorous (“The computer substitutes nonsense words for the ones I wrote”). The characters’ one-liners in the cartoons are delightful; one cruise-ship shuffleboard player says to another, “I stay young by studying my own diseases,” for example, and an old woman with back pain looks at her dropped purse and says, “What gets on the floor, stays on the floor.” As the inclusion of a chapter on facing the end of life indicates, Hartz refuses to sugarcoat his subject; he shows old age’s frustrations and fears as directly as he shows the happiness that one may experience with the proper mental attitude. However, older readers, or those living with older people, will appreciate the fact that the happiness wins out. Overall, this is a wonderfully hopeful book—empathetic and warmhearted.

An often upbeat set of spirited senior reflections.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-79756-345-9

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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