A truth-telling tour conducted by an agile guide.

The first openly gay comedian to perform on the Tonight Show delivers a collection of witty essays exploring his remarkable career and life.

Since 2007, Smith, a successful comedian and author of both nonfiction and fiction (Remembrance of Things I Forgot, 2011, etc.), has lived with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and even though he now communicates through his iPad, his wit is as sharp as ever: “I’d like to tell God what a dick he is for creating ALS and punch him—if I could still make a fist.” In his latest book, he writes about being a father, his past romantic encounters, his love of animals, his group of close friends he calls the Nature Boys, and his career as a comedian. Smith’s love of nature started early when he received a subscription to the children’s version of National Geographic. Engaging with the environment and all its delights and discomforts forms the core of the narrative, offering observations on a variety of natural environments and details about his trips to Santa Fe, the Malibu hills, Alaska, and Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Each essay provides a glimpse into Smith’s thought processes on diverse subjects, including how to confront homophobic hecklers while on stage, the joys of parenthood, and his love of “all things Native American.” Smith concedes that though his disease has been a trial, it has given him the opportunity to speak openly about any topic he wishes. “I was now blessed with a free pass to discuss all religions and beliefs after I was forced to confront the fact that my relation to the universe might expire,” he writes. Though the author holds strong opinions, his essays are funny and intimate without being self-indulgent. Never moving too far from his comedic nature, Smith delivers one-liners throughout, and nothing is off-limits.

A truth-telling tour conducted by an agile guide.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-299-31050-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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