A valuable take on a canonical writer, highlighting how good work stands the test of time.



An enjoyable exploration of how Hemingway’s influence on American literature continues to be significant.

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway gave a direct instruction to writers: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Find the essential truth of the story, and the rest will eventually follow—profound, yes, but surprisingly difficult to do. Cirino and Von Cannon, academics who share a special interest in Hemingway, have been pursuing this idea for years, especially via their One True Podcast. This collection brings together the best of the interviews and adds some other material. Each interviewee was asked to pick their favorite Hemingway sentence (although some pick a paragraph or several sentences) and explain what it means to them. Some examine a sparse, compact line. Others opt for one of Hemingway’s long, swirling sentences. This underlines the variety of Hemingway’s writing as well as his capacity to imply volumes in a few words. Several contributors discuss why Hemingway’s writing has endured, pointing to his focus on the evergreen themes of love, loss, and war. Others note the time and consideration that Hemingway put into his craft, with endless redrafting and rethinking, as well as his embrace of a wide range of the human experience. As he demonstrated, writing is not, in fact, particularly difficult; doing it well and making it look easy, however, is. This is one of the keys to Hemingway: polishing the text until the effort seems to disappear and the authenticity shines through. This is summed up by a line that several writers point to as their inspiration—the concluding line from The Sun Also Rises: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” Yes, it is. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick co-wrote the foreword, and contributors include Valerie Hemingway, Elizabeth Strout, Sherman Alexie, Paula McLain, Craig Johnson, Joshua Ferris, Russell Banks, and Pam Houston.

A valuable take on a canonical writer, highlighting how good work stands the test of time.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-56792-713-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.


Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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