A can’t-miss comedic performer delivers a mediocre book.

ME OF LITTLE FAITH

The comedian’s twisted views on spirituality.

Politics, his family and his neuroses used to be the meat and potatoes of Black’s stand-up act, but lately he’s been increasingly focused on religion. Thus it should come as no surprise to his ever-increasing fan base that the follow-up to his bestselling—and quite funny—debut, Nothing’s Sacred (2005), compiles 42 essays riffing on everything from praying on airplanes to suicide bombers. Unlike his always-solid stage routine, however, the proceedings here are hit-or-miss. Looking at his words on the printed page, readers will realize how important Black’s enraged delivery is to his act. The book certainly has its moments. “The God Lists: God the Father/God the Bother” (one list for each) features Black at his blackest: Among the 23 reasons he doesn’t believe in God, we find beets, Nazis, herpes and American Idol. But such spot-on moments are few and far between. The book’s worst transgression is the inclusion of the script from a critically lambasted play performed in 1981 by Black and fellow Yale Drama grad Mark Linn-Baker (better known from TV’s Perfect Strangers). “I know it’s strange to go into a play at this point,” acknowledges the author, who was a playwright for years before The Daily Show made him famous, “but it is truly the best way to conclude this book. Or maybe it isn’t. I really don’t know.” Black is a brilliant performer and a biting social commentator, but based on the evidence in this disappointing volume, he’s not much of a playwright…or a book author.

A can’t-miss comedic performer delivers a mediocre book.

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59448-994-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more