An uneven but often intriguing look at a modern creative artist.

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BOOK, ESSAY, AND MATERIAL FROM VARIOUS WORKS

Lund presents a collection of essays and other short writings.

This compilation kicks off with a review of a 2015 exhibit at Los Angeles’ California Science Center that featured the Dead Sea Scrolls. The author describes the scrolls’ presence as “ghostly,” and the tour as brief, but notes that the experience was still worth the trip. A bit later, the work presents a no-frills description of a Rose Bowl football game (“Eventually, Georgia defeated Oklahoma in double overtime, (54-48)”) and then offers original poetry, which is sometimes startling (“Breakfast / Sits / Like a pine cone / In my ass”), and other times grandiose (“My greatness will be realized despite my mortal cage!”). Not long after an academic essay on Geoffrey Chaucer comes the hardiest fare in the collection—a journal. In brief entries, the author describes his creation of independent comic books over the course of a few years. The journal will provide plenty of tips to the uninitiated, such as the importance of having promotional items at the Alternative Pres Expo in San Francisco. The collection’s final pages offer a short, oddly violent screenplay, featuring characters with names such as “Rock-Head” and “Knuckles Tony”; at one point, a young, female character is described as “Very pretty, but not astonishing.” This book, as its subtitle indicates, encompasses a multitude of odds and ends, which function more as a portrait of their creator than any kind of cohesive narrative. Readers don’t get very many details about what it’s like to live in LA, enjoy the occasional museum visit, and try to make it in the comic book business. However, altogether, the book offers an intimate and inviting précis of the artist himself. That said, certain portions are unhelpfully obtuse; for example, regarding a display of William Shakespeare’s folios, the author vaguely and confusingly observes that “Genius pokes holes in hubris and casts light while many people struggle with their endeavors in the arts.”

An uneven but often intriguing look at a modern creative artist.

Pub Date: April 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64426-553-6

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Rosedog Books

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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

NIGHT

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

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