by Charles Johnson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 11, 2022
An illuminating, warmhearted souvenir of a tumultuous era.
A portrait of the novelist as a young artist.
Before he became an award-winning fiction writer, Johnson was a professional gag cartoonist and was so well respected at the trade that he hosted a how-to-draw TV series for a PBS station. This anthology is a compilation of both previously anthologized drawings and some never before included in book form. It doubles as both gallery and memoir, as the chronologically arranged drawings (beginning with a 1965 “pictorial resume” from his senior year at Evanston High School in Illinois) are interspersed with passages by the author describing his growth from a childhood so obsessed with drawing pictures on a home blackboard that “my knees and the kitchen floor were covered with layers of chalk” to contributing cartoons first to his college newspaper at Southern Illinois University and eventually to the Chicago Tribune and to gaining the attention of John H. Johnson, legendary publisher of such Black-oriented magazines as Ebony, Jet, and Negro Digest (later Black World). The cartoons are blunt, in-your-face, and, often, still funny-and-fresh lampoons of racial mores and manners. The earlier ones from the late 1960s through early ’70s reflect the post–civil rights era militancy and conflicts with the police. In one, one Black man says to another, “You’d be surprised how many people mistake me for [Black Power advocate] H. Rap Brown” as they’re walking down a city street while, just behind them, a cordon of armed-and-uniformed Whites make their way toward them. In another, two Black men are in a car pulled over by a White motorcycle cop as one says to the other, “Look moderate.” In another, one freshly minted Black college graduate says to another, “Well, I guess now I’ll see if Standard Oil or the Bank of America needs a consultant with a degree in Black History.” For those with knowledge or memories of that latter topic, these crafty single-panel drawings resonate with rueful nostalgia, roughhousing wit, and, as noted earlier, some eerie convergences with present-day turmoil. Now, as then, Johnson’s efforts here are intended to soothe with drollness as much as sting with recognition. “Like the best haiku,” he writes, “where a thought or feeling is perfectly expressed in just a few lines and is instantly understood, a well-done cartoon can often lead to an epiphany or ‘Aha!’ moment of laughter and sudden insight.”An illuminating, warmhearted souvenir of a tumultuous era.
Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022
Page Count: 280
Publisher: New York Review Comics
Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Mitch Albom ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 2023
A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.
Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.
Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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