A moving coming-out story with an intriguing narrative structure.




Ashton’s (Red Hot Mama, 2015) memoir tells stories of his troubled childhood, the excitement of being an aspiring actor in New York City, and his first real love for another man.

Growing up in the heart of Mormon country in the 1950s, or the “LDS yellow brick road,” as he calls it, Ashton spent his early childhood gravitating toward performance, music, and theater—all subjects that earned him scorn from his conservative father. These painful early years also resulted in him having deep shame about his sexuality and his desire for men, which he couldn’t even admit to himself. The memoir shifts between Ashton’s first few years at Brigham Young University, where he began to make a name for himself as one of the most talented actors on campus, and memories of beatings from his father and of the erosion of his family, due to fear of sin. During college, he made forays into sex; once, he endured a brutal rape, which he willed himself to forget. However, at Brigham Young, he also met a strikingly good-looking young man named Harlan, who took young Ashton under his wing, and with whom Ashton fell deeply in love. In Ashton’s post-college life, he tried to break onto Broadway and come to terms with the psychological damage he endured in the LDS Church. He also experienced the devastating conclusion of his long relationship with Harlan. Ashton has clearly led a long, fascinating life. However, he tries to put too much of it into a single book; as a result, the passages concerning his later life feel rushed, compared to the care and detail he brings to his childhood and first years in New York, which feature wonderful run-ins with celebrities, such as Bette Davis and Stephen Sondheim. However, the memoir’s fractured structure is smart, as it allows Ashton to develop a single, riveting story about his growing love for Harlan and his battle with BYU’s unrelenting moral standards. Along the way, he adds rich perspective as he alternates between the troubled child he was, and the proud, openly gay New Yorker that he eventually became.

A moving coming-out story with an intriguing narrative structure.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-17051-9

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Lynn Wolf Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.



Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.


A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet