A playful and often hilarious book full of New York stories, domestic hijinks, and madcap journeys.

COCKLOFT

SCENES FROM A GAY MARRIAGE

A writer documents the wry and zany moments he’s experienced growing up, traveling, and living with his lawyer husband in this memoir.

Smith (85A, 2010) had tried his hand at writing the Great American Novel several times, including during stints in Europe and New York City, but the attempts fizzled out. Undeterred, the native Chicagoan moved to New York again and settled into a comfortable marriage with a securities attorney named Julius. The couple’s house in Brooklyn was invaded by a squirrel that appeared in the cockloft, a protrusion on the roof that houses electrical wires and insulation, and it started trashing the kitchen at night. Smith’s sense of foreboding and drama was quite well-cultivated, and before he had a full-fledged nervous breakdown, the squirrel was driven from the house by a Texan neighbor named Nicola. Julius, who “dexterously negotiates his own double life as a hard-nosed businessman and bon vivant whose tastes are better suited to Honoré de Balzac’s time than Justin Bieber’s,” left the banking world, and the two began a new life in San Francisco. Written in a mix of prose and theater-style dialogue, the book offers vignettes that describe Smith’s childhood as the youngest of seven Irish-American kids in Chicago; his sister’s short liaison with a married British man who shared the surname Smith; and a panicked hashish trip in Amsterdam. Throughout, the more effectual Julius is the perfect foil for Smith’s energetic love of overheard conversations, neurotic dreams and anecdotes, and absurdities in otherwise mundane situations. The author’s singular memoir uses its mix of dialogue and prose to great effect, with laser-focused wit placed on cherished childhood memories and truly fun times in adulthood. The writing can be ultraconcise (one chapter consists of a humorous haiku), but a full picture of Smith’s life emerges in the anecdotes, from 1970s childhood hopes and dreams to a laudable portrait of a gay marriage. The storytelling is lighter on its feet than that of David Sedaris but just as funny. Whether Smith and Julius are bribing contractors or failing to get through Anna Karenina (“My eyes gave out”), the author’s voice never strays off course through wildly different scenarios.

A playful and often hilarious book full of New York stories, domestic hijinks, and madcap journeys.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64237-216-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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