A lyrical, tender linguistic balm.

ON CONNECTION

A critically acclaimed poet and recording artist reflects on the relationship between creativity and human connection.

In a book that Tempest wrote in response to a publisher's request for "a work of non-fiction for a series of short pamphlets,” they avoid political statements about connection in a divided world and focus instead on “how immersion in creativity can bring us closer to each other and help us cultivate greater self-awareness.” Drawing on 20 years of experience as a spoken word artist, author Tempest titles each essay to reflect a component or element of a spoken word or musical performance. In "Set Up," they suggest that creativity in all domains of life allows individuals to "access and feel connection [with]” everything from ideas and emotions to other individuals. Disconnection, which Tempest discusses in "Sound Check,” arises from a "numbness" that serves as "a logical response" to the onslaught of modern life. In "Doors," the author describes their own creative journey and reveals how poetry became the avenue for connection with others, including a homeless man who forced Tempest to look past their own prejudices and cultivate a deeper understanding of the inequities of life and chance. In later sections, the author reflects on performance. In "Going Out There," for example, they suggest how social media has transformed performance art into a mindless act done for approval rather than communion. “Anything we think, feel, witness, imagine or partake in becomes ammunition for the next pithy tweet, political statement, glamorous image or sarcastic caption,” writes the author. For Tempest, connection only comes about through conscious artistic effort, and when it happens, it brings together performer and spectator "in a communal feeling that takes the whole room or none of us.” With its emphasis on empathy and the importance of being present, this slender book, which will appeal mostly to readers with an interest in mindfulness, is a welcome tonic to the fractured dissonance of modern life.

A lyrical, tender linguistic balm.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-571-35402-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

FAITH, HOPE AND CARNAGE

The Australian alt-rock icon talks at length about the relationship between faith, death, and art.

Like many touring musicians stalled during the pandemic, Cave pursued an autobiographical book project while in quarantine. But rather than write a standard memoir, he instead consented to a book of extensive interviews with U.K. arts journalist O’Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian and a feature writer for the Observer. Cave chose this approach in order to avoid standard rock-star patter and to address grittier, more essential matters. On that front, he has plenty of material to work with. Much of the book focuses on his 15-year-old son Arthur, who died from an accidental fall off a cliff in 2015. The loss fueled Cave’s 2019 album, Ghosteen, but Cave sees the connection between life and art as indirect, involving improvisation, uncertainty, and no small amount of thinking about religion. “The loss of my son is a condition; not a theme,” he tells O’Hagan. Loss is a constant in these conversations—during the period when they were recorded, Cave’s mother also died, as did his former band mate Anita Lane. Yet despite that, this is a lively, engrossing book energized by Cave’s relentless candor—and sometimes counterintuitive thinking—about his work and his demons. His well-documented past heroin addiction, he says, “fed into my need for a conservative and well-ordered life.” Grief, he suggests, is surprisingly clarifying: “We become different. We become better.” Throughout, he talks about the challenges and joys of songwriting and improvisation (mostly around Carnage, the 2021 album he recorded with band mate Warren Ellis during this period) and about the comfort he gets answering questions from fans and strangers on his website. O’Hagan knows Cave’s work well, but he avoids fussy discographical queries and instead pushes Cave toward philosophical elaborations, which he’s generally game for.

A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60737-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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