A sensible, readable, and, above all, forgiving overview of modern dating.

FIRST DATE STORIES

WOMEN'S ROMANTIC AND RIDICULOUS MIDLIFE ADVENTURES

A series of anecdotes and advice from a veteran of many, many dates.

“Dating for decades isn’t something that people usually tout,” Klein notes at the beginning of her humorous and defiantly upbeat new book. “But why not? Isn’t it better to wait to meet the right partner than to divorce the wrong one?” Such sound logic is a recurring feature of this work, which consists of several tales—some harsh, some infuriating, almost all funny—drawn from her time in the dating world. “Dating takeaway tips” after each story provide postgame analysis, as it were: what went right, what went wrong, what lessons can be learned. No matter what aspect of the dating experience readers love or hate the most, they’ll likely find it somewhere in these accounts. There are endless restaurant dinners with their attendant anxieties and unwanted discoveries, and there are awkward confessions, strained silences, and often bumbling attempts to come up with mutually interesting things to do. But along the way, Klein appealingly offers hard-won wisdom from her own experience, weighing in on such issues as who should pay (“if by not doing ‘the reach’ you find yourself in a ‘check standoff,’ you will have learned something about him”) and what to do when one is stood up (“The best antidote to a bad date, or a no-show, is quality time with a girlfriend, a BFF, a family member, or someone else who cares about you”). Readers will likely come to this book for the intriguing stories, but they’ll stay for the supportive common sense that the author dispenses, and they’ll appreciate her compassionate tone throughout.

A sensible, readable, and, above all, forgiving overview of modern dating.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-742185-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

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

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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