Feinberg's reflections on AIDS are often annoying and mediocre, frequently witty, and sometimes deeply disturbing. Novelist Feinberg (Eighty-Sixed, 1989) starts out unpromisingly. The first and title essay of the collection is burdened by zeitgeist clichÇs (e.g., ``I plead the Twinkie defense''), patronizing scorn for the reader's supposed ``bleeding liberal heart,'' overuse of italics for emphasis, and insights more appropriate to a T-shirt than an essay (``Reality is for people who can't cope with drugs''). After that piece, though, the writing picks up. With dark humor and rage, Feinberg brings us to ACT UP meetings and demonstrations and recounts the deaths, funerals, and memorial services of his friends. He also chronicles his own physical decay in unsparing detail; some of these sections are so visceral that they are hard to read. In lighter moments, he reflects on red ribbons, the gym, and the etiquette of HIV disclosure. Though Feinberg's humor can fall flat, most of the essays have their moments: At one point he muses, ``Gays call straights breeders...I'm sure we'll come up with a derogatory term for neggies [HIV-negative people] soon enough: Aseptic? Hermetically sealed?'' His rudeness can be delightful; on a bus, he tells some young people pondering the meaning of life to keep it down, ``because some of us are thirty and we have already had these conversations.'' Sometimes his campy, flippant style seems trivializing, but it can be highly appropriate, as when he exposes the cynical selling of AIDS, from criminally insensitive direct- mail campaigns for AIDS organizations (one group's letter begins ``Before he died, he asked me to mail this to you'') to LifeStyle Urns (cremation urns marketed specifically to people with AIDS and their survivors—some even come engraved with a lambda symbol). Despite this collection's title, Feinberg is no Hunter S. Thompson, but he does have an effective, biting edge.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-85766-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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