by Jenn Shapland ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 15, 2023
An eloquent and vibrantly lucid collection.
A distinguished essayist explores the permeability of human bodies—including her own—to the modern world and its vagaries.
In her second book, following the acclaimed My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Shapland transforms “systemic sensitivity” into a lens through which to consider human fragility as it manifests via bodily ailments, considerations of gender, and excess consumerism. Her first piece muses on physical and psychological vulnerability. The author has suffered from migraines and chronic pain, and she was also diagnosed with skin that lacks “ceramides, which keeps the bad stuff out and holds the moisture in.” These and other conditions forced her into hyperawareness of how thin her protection was against the pandemic as well as radioactive contaminants present in her adopted home of Santa Fe. In “Strangers on a Train,” Shapland considers gender vulnerability, discussing the meaning of moving through misogynist society as a (White) female. Because she fears capture by hostile elements, she becomes “a hostage to my own safety” as well as “an agent of the larger mission of the state,” which weaponizes women’s perceived vulnerability against marginalized communities. The author expands her exploration of gender in “The Meaning of Life,” in which she examines childbearing in post-Roe America. The choice to have children is “always political, always overshadowed by a set of power structures” that determine “what choice is even possible.” By remaining childless—as Shapland and her queer partner have chosen to be—women become heretics against the capitalist system. A chastened slave to consumerism, Shapland observes that under capitalism, “people die by my hand every day.” Endlessly desiring and buying goods puts her on the receiving end of merchandise created by people living in misery, making her an unwilling accomplice to capitalistic violence. Breathtaking in their sharp synthesis of a variety of ideas and experiences, Shapland’s essays are a truth-telling balm for mind, body, and spirit.An eloquent and vibrantly lucid collection.
Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023
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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Awards & Accolades
The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.
Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Celadon Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020
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by Jimmy Buffett ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 1, 1998
Lg. Prt. 0-375-70288-1 This first nonfiction outing from singer/songwriter Buffett (Where Is Joe Merchant?, 1992, etc.) is more food for his Parrothead fans, but there is some fine writing along with the self-revelation. Half autobiography and half travelogue, this volume recounts a trip by Buffett and his family to the Caribbean over one Christmas holiday to celebrate the writer’s 50th birthday. Buffett is a licensed pilot, and his personal weakness is for seaplanes, so it’s primarily in this sort of craft that the family’s journey takes place. While giving beautiful descriptions of the locales to which he travels (including a very attractive portrait of Key West, from which he sets out), Buffett intersperses recollections of his first, short-lived marriage, his experiences in college and avoiding the Vietnam draft, and his brief employment at Billboard magazine’s Nashville bureau before becoming a professional musician. In the meantime, he carries his reader seamlessly through the Cayman Island, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Amazon basin, and Trinidad and Tobago. Buffett shows that he is a keen observer of Latin American culture and also that he can “pass” in these surroundings when he needs to. It’s perhaps on this latter point that this book finds its principal weakness. Buffett tends toward preachiness in addressing his mostly landlubber readers, as when he decries the seeming American inability to learn a second language while most Caribbeans can speak English; elsewhere he attacks “ugly Americans out there making it harder for us more-connected-to-the-local-culture types.” On the other hand, he seems right on the money when he observes that the drug war of the 1980s did little to stop trafficking in the area and that turning wetlands into helicopter pads for drug agents isn’t going to offer any additional help. Both Parrotheads and those with a taste for the Caribbean find something for their palates here. (Author tour)
Pub Date: July 1, 1998
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998
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