Interviews with numerous individuals, many of them celebrities, on how they have coped with adversity. Interviewer Wholey, former host of PBS's Late Night America and author of Are You Happy? (1986) and The Courage to Change (1984)—which used celebrity interviews to explore happiness and alcohol, respectively—has edited out his questions here, believing they would intrude on the ``truly inspirational'' stories his subjects have to tell. The result, though, is an often curiously flat narration of some absolutely awful personal experiences—incarceration in Auschwitz and Dachau, devastating illnesses, disfiguring and disabling accidents, etc. Among the celebrities who speak with Wholey are Jim Brady, brain-damaged in John Hinkley's assassination attempt on President Reagan, and Betty Ford, who has faced both cancer and drug addiction. Wholey also talks with Robert Bork, who lost his bid for a Supreme Court seat; former American Univ. president Richard Berendzen, who faced disgrace after making indecent telephone calls; and Nixon advisor Charles Colson, sent to prison during the Watergate investigation. The author's arrangement of his subjects' stories into such categories as ``Suffering,'' ``Loss,'' ``Attitude,'' and ``Acceptance'' appears somewhat arbitrary but does give him room, in brief introductions, to insert his own insights into facing personal disaster. The penultimate section, ``Support and Wisdom,'' excerpts comments from various interviews and intends to be morale-boosting, while the last section, ``Final Thoughts,'' could have been called ``Random Thoughts''—it contains brief pieces by assorted experts on AIDS, the rights of the disabled, and the hospice movement, as well as an unfocused essay by Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan. Even with the celebrity gloss, essentially uninspired and uninspiring.

Pub Date: May 29, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-985-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.


The Book of Genesis as imagined by a veteran voice of underground comics.

R. Crumb’s pass at the opening chapters of the Bible isn’t nearly the act of heresy the comic artist’s reputation might suggest. In fact, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural is fastidiously respectful. Crumb took pains to preserve every word of Genesis—drawing from numerous source texts, but mainly Robert Alter’s translation, The Five Books of Moses (2004)—and he clearly did his homework on the clothing, shelter and landscapes that surrounded Noah, Abraham and Isaac. This dedication to faithful representation makes the book, as Crumb writes in his introduction, a “straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes.” But his efforts are in their own way irreverent, and Crumb feels no particular need to deify even the most divine characters. God Himself is not much taller than Adam and Eve, and instead of omnisciently imparting orders and judgment He stands beside them in Eden, speaking to them directly. Jacob wrestles not with an angel, as is so often depicted in paintings, but with a man who looks not much different from himself. The women are uniformly Crumbian, voluptuous Earth goddesses who are both sexualized and strong-willed. (The endnotes offer a close study of the kinds of power women wielded in Genesis.) The downside of fitting all the text in is that many pages are packed tight with small panels, and too rarely—as with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—does Crumb expand his lens and treat signature events dramatically. Even the Flood is fairly restrained, though the exodus of the animals from the Ark is beautifully detailed. The author’s respect for Genesis is admirable, but it may leave readers wishing he had taken a few more chances with his interpretation, as when he draws the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a provocative half-man/half-lizard. On the whole, though, the book is largely a tribute to Crumb’s immense talents as a draftsman and stubborn adherence to the script.

An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-393-06102-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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