Smart but meandering, inconsequential entertainment.

HOW TO DATE MEN WHEN YOU HATE MEN

A frank battle cry from a 20-something woman in the modern-dating trenches of New York City.

Roberson, a freelance humorist and researcher at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, wields generous self-criticism to chronicle the current state of affairs among heteronormative singles on the hunt for love and/or just enough interaction with the opposite sex to keep the conversation about male idiocy going. Despite the catchy title, this book is neither a polemic against men nor a navigational how-to tome filled with advice. There is no narrative arc (chapters include, among others, “Crushes,” “Flirting,” and “Breaking Up”), catalyst for personal or romantic evolution, or tests of any real consequence for the author. Readers in search of deeply personal revelations should look elsewhere, but those seeking relatable accounts of just how unromantic the pursuits of romance actually are will be richly rewarded. Roberson’s great strengths are her blistering comedic sense and her cringeworthy, unexaggerated insights into her dealings with men. By “men,” clarifies the author, “I am talking in most cases about straight, cis, able-bodied white men…who have all the privilege in the world”—traits Roberson admits could be used to describe her. The author is as forthright about her sexual desires and lack of understanding of “ANY text ANY man” sends her as she is about her lack of experience with intimacy. Throughout the book, Roberson provides plenty of reasons for readers to laugh out loud. In a list of ways to kill time while waiting to answer a text, for example, she includes “Be in Peru and Have No Wi-Fi” and “Think About a Riddle.” She also satirizes The Rules, the notorious bestseller with archaic advice about how to catch a husband, and seamlessly weaves in pop-cultural references to countless sources. The so-called conclusion is a misstep; this book isn’t a story so it doesn’t have a beginning or end. Roberson doesn’t have a vendetta against men, only an understandable wish that they would be clear about their intentions and then take action.

Smart but meandering, inconsequential entertainment.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19342-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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