An engaging gastronomic presentation of French history and culture.



This sequel offers French family stories—and recipes—from Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Normandy and Brittany on the Atlantic coast, the Loire Valley, and Auvergne.

With tape recorder and notepad in hand, Bumpus—traveling with Josianne, her French-speaking friend and guide—first interviewed Veronique for this collection. Veronique lived east of Dunkirk in the Monts de Flandres area, close to the Belgian border. Madame Pund, Veronique’s mother, served “her famous Potjevlesh”(meat pot), a Flemish specialty. Historically, the dish was prepared from leftover meats, such as “rabbit, chicken, and pork…all roasted with a lot of herbs.” Fearful of stirring tragic memories, the author cautiously asked Veronique whether her mother would mind talking about World War II. With Madame Pund’s permission, Veronique launched into the story of her father, whose family escaped the German bombings of Dunkirk. He was 9 years old when his mother and aunt decided to flee. With the men out fighting the Germans, his aunt, who did not know how to drive, became the designated driver. She “could barely reach the pedals…and didn’t know how to use the brake.” To stop the car, Veronique’s father would “jump out and put a block of wood in front of the wheels.” When German airplanes strafed the line of cars, they would “all jump into the ditch.” In Normandy, Bumpus visited the Cathedral of Our Lady in Bayeux, consecrated in 1077, to see the church where a 200-foot-long tapestry depicting “the entire story of William the Conqueror…woven into the cloth” originally resided. The author’s straightforward narrative delivers vivid imagery of both the surroundings and the people: “The air was crisp and sparkling as we drove along the beach”; Madame Pund “moved through the room with some discomfort yet carried herself in a regal manner.” As a poignant illustration of Bumpus’ belief that the trauma of war permanently changes lives, she introduces a French grandmother who had barely survived in Paris during World War II. Upon hearing of 9/11, the woman ordered 500 kilos of potatoes, just in case. All of the recipes discussed and sampled are included in this enjoyable work.

An engaging gastronomic presentation of French history and culture. (maps)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-896-5

Page Count: 376

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



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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