Essential for fans but fascinating for those new to Brunetti’s work as well.

A handsomely designed encapsulation of the artistic life of a unique American illustrator.

Born in small-town Italy and raised in working-class Chicago, Brunetti (Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, 2011, etc.) has likely reached his widest readership with a series of covers for New Yorker (most of them featuring multiple figures with big, round heads), though his work also encompasses strips in an alternative weekly, book covers, work for smaller journals and, most surprisingly, an unsuccessful attempt to become a successor to the late Ernie Bushmiller’s “Nancy” strip (oft-ridiculed, but the round heads suggest a link). As the book traces the artist’s development (though not, of course, chronologically), it only occasionally interrupts the parade of images with words that seem like little more than captions. Yet that annotation is crucial and illuminating, revealing an artist whose consciousness is as distinctive as his aesthetics, partly the result of “terrible” eyesight (“I have tried to convert this severe limitation into an idiosyncrasy. A pre-derangement of the senses.”) but more from a deep sense of worthlessness: “Typically, I loathe my strips nearly as much as I loathe myself.” The reflections force readers to consider Brunetti’s art through fresh eyes (though not the author’s bad eyes) and to understand the interrelationship among his aesthetic, his perception and his life. It also details a progression from a child’s scrawl to the three-dimensional work (which he resists calling sculpture) to which he has turned in depression. Like any good Italian boy, he also displays an obsession with (pre-Disney) Pinocchio.

Essential for fans but fascinating for those new to Brunetti’s work as well.

Pub Date: May 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-300-18440-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013


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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