Comedy for fans of Tucker Max and early Howard Stern.



A book version of the Scottish comedian’s routine.

Recycling his material into book form, Sloss creates an awkward mix of virulent complaints and predictable relationship advice. The author boasts that his show Jigsaw, in which he made the unremarkable case that it's better to be alone than in a bad relationship, “broke up 95,000 couples, resulted in 250 engagements being canceled and more than 200 divorces.” Throughout, Sloss employs profanity with a liberal hand, “not as much as I originally wanted—there's editors for you—but still enough to hurt your delicate American sensibilities.” In one particularly venomous chapter, the author unleashes a tirade directed at his ex-girlfriend, who “is going to read this and feel so, so bad about herself” and who he hopes “dies in a car crash. As long as no innocent civilians are killed, I don’t think I’d bat an eye.” His ability to dispense relationship advice—e.g., “Have as much sex as you can while you're young, because it’s the only time you’re allowed to suck at it”; “You owe nothing to anyone other than yourself”—is predicated on his seemingly unironic belief that “I'm twenty-nine years old. I think I know what I'm talking about.” Less shocking than sophomoric, the book is likely to grate on the nerves of those who don't identify as “Lads, Lads, Lads.” The author’s attempts to shoehorn more serious emotional material into the narrative—as when he describes his love for a sister who suffered from cerebral palsy and died when she was 6 and he was 8—feel misplaced. In the final chapter, Sloss writes about the satisfying relationship he has with his girlfriend of three years, but he includes an objectively appalling list of ways in which he's mistreated her. Readers may wonder whom he’s trying to impress with his naughty ways.

Comedy for fans of Tucker Max and early Howard Stern.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65814-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.


The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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