An amateurish but heartfelt effort.

WATER

A collection of water-themed poetry and photographs of the northern Florida Keys.

Hart, an avid swimmer, combines her fascinations with water, the written word, and imagery in this book. “Water is the moods of power and creation,” the author states at the start of this massive tome, divided into four sections by season. The work centers on themes of love, the benevolent qualities of the universe, and the heart’s ability to heal. The poems are primarily motivational and inspirational in nature; they aim to uplift. “Miracles happen all the time,” states the narrator in “True.” Many entries take the form of communication between two people or entities. “Tears” reads like dialogue between the wind and a soul; in “Carry On,” a conversation takes place between a bird and a tree. Other poems, like “Grateful,” resemble written prayers; some are as succinct as one line, and none surpass a page. Interspersed throughout are images of the sun sinking into the horizon, sea gulls crisscrossing the sky, solitary sailboats bobbing along, and shadowy silhouettes of people captured from behind. This is less a book of poetry than a string of feel-good statements arranged in stanzas. The rhyme schemes are erratic and the subjects nebulous. There is little scene-setting or characterization. “A pilot stood near some trees” is as descriptive as it gets. Occasionally, the poet lands on an apt simile, such as, “We are united, / like the seashells with the sand.” Those seeking simple comfort will find it here in meditations like “Mind” (“A loving memory is only / one thought away, and it / can change everything”) or “Omniscience” (“Love lives in the spirit / of everything”). This might serve well as a coffee-table book, though the photographs are grainy and the cursive font interferes with the reading experience at times.

An amateurish but heartfelt effort.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9854824-8-0

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2021

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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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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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