A sparkling, imaginative rendition of a literary classic.

Whimsical illustrations meet quirky prose in this tag-team reinvention of the iconic 1933 book.

An award-winning New Yorker illustrator, designer, and author, Kalman (Swami on Rye: Max in India, 2018, etc.) takes on the challenge of illustrating Stein’s iconic “auto” biography of her longtime companion Toklas. Even though it’s not as ambitious as Zak Smith’s Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow (2006) or Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures (2011), Kalman’s 70-plus color illustrations, rendered in her distinctive playful and Fauve-esque style, perfectly reflect the artistic and intellectual world of Paris in the 1920s and ’30s. In a short afterword, written in Kalman’s distinctive script, she describes the book as a “love story” about how “two people, joined together, become themselves. They cannot breathe right without each other.” An accompanying illustration shows them sitting together at a table, Stein reading a book (aloud?), Toklas looking on (listening?). On the final page of the book, Stein notes that Toklas probably will not write her autobiography, so “I am going to write it for you….And she did and this is it.” On first meeting Stein, Toklas said there are a “great many things to tell of what was happening then….I must describe what I saw when I came.” With the current volume, we see what Kalman saw. Here’s Stein sitting in a bright yellow chair at her popular Paris home at 27 rue de Fleurus, Picasso’s famous portrait of Stein on the wall behind her. Luminaries came and went, all beautifully captured with Kalman’s bright brush strokes: Toulouse-Lautrec; Seurat, who “caught his fatal cold”; the “extraordinarily brilliant” Guillaume Apollinaire; William James, Stein’s former teacher; Marcel Duchamp (“everybody loved him)”; Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky; James Joyce and Sylvia Beach; Hemingway; the “beautiful” Edith Sitwell; and of course, Toklas, wearing one of her hats with “lovely artificial flowers” on top.

A sparkling, imaginative rendition of a literary classic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59420-460-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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