This powerful work mixes an AIDS account with a history of a spouse’s scandalous behavior.



In this memoir, a writer chronicles his experiences during the AIDS crisis and his husband’s double life, revealing multiple affairs.

Edwards-Stout sets the tone of this book by sharing the story of reading his “civil-union” husband’s email in 2001 only to discover that he was planning to leave him for someone else. Readers will expect the sordid tale of this philandering husband, whom the author refers to as “Eyes,” to follow this opening scene. But the audience must wait for further revelations about Eyes. Instead, the author spends the first half of the memoir recounting growing up in Southern California as a gay man in the 1970s and trying to break into acting in Hollywood after dabbling in theater at UCLA. Telling tales of hobnobbing with stars from that period like Loni Anderson, Jennifer Beals, and Darren McGavin, Edwards-Stout also recounts meeting actors like Mariska Hargitay and Jack Black before they became famous. The author later turned into an activist, working for AIDS Project Los Angeles during the height of the health disaster. The chapters about caring for his lover Shane as he died from the disease in 1995 are the most poignant parts of the work. Edwards-Stout peppers his story with various “Life Lessons” he has picked up throughout his journey that also deftly display his sense of humor. For example: “Never underestimate the impact that walking into a gym shower, only to witness a former boss shaving his balls, can have.” The second part of the engrossing memoir finally divulges Eyes’ outrageous indiscretions: multiple affairs that had him switching out his wedding ring as well as fabricating chemotherapy treatments. The author actually offers two illuminating books here: the moving story of being a gay man in Los Angeles during the AIDS catastrophe and the shocking litany of betrayals by his husband, the father of their adopted son.

This powerful work mixes an AIDS account with a history of a spouse’s scandalous behavior.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9839837-5-0

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Circumspect Press

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2020

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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.


The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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



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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