Poignant and funny.

READ REVIEW

GIMME SHELTER

TRUE TALES FROM THE REAL ESTATE BUBBLE

A middle-class couple in “car-honking, no-YOU-shut-up Brooklyn” embarks on a three-year mission to seek the permanence of home ownership.

Journalist Williams loved her Carroll Gardens rental, but felt pressured as homeowning friends with appreciating equity ridiculed those who didn’t invest in real estate, asking, “What will it cost six months from now?” With limited savings for a down payment, the author and her husband desperately started looking for houses in Brooklyn, but in their price range found only dilapidated, termite-ridden buildings near highways and unsafe neighborhoods. Williams bitingly describes the search, reliving the hysteria at the height of the 2003–06 real-estate bubble: “Open houses are crowded and competitive, with brokers entertaining multiple suitors like Scarlett O’Hara at a party.” Without much of a plot engine to propel a repetitive, mostly unfulfilling search, the author opts for plumbing the psychological depths of her emotional history, explaining her tenacious need for a house and security in confessional, tell-all prose. Abandoned by her husband when she was six-months pregnant, Williams’ reluctant mother is a chronic worrier and inappropriate confider who says things like, “You have no idea how incredible it is to have grandchildren…It’s so different than what you feel for your own child.” The author shows New York rapidly becoming affordable only for the extremely rich, while the middle-class gets squeezed out to the suburbs. Along the way, she patiently explains such real-estate idioms as staging, no-doc mortgages (“a lending version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ ”) and interest-only loans. Although the author’s mantra was to go for what you want, no matter how unobtainable it seemed, eventually she compromised and settled for a lower-priced home in Inwood, on the northern tip of Manhattan, close to the Cloisters and a beautiful park.

Poignant and funny.

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5708-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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A rather chaotic and messy tale of talent, determination, and success in the world of independent film and TV that hardcore...

LIKE BROTHERS

A quirky inside portrait of brotherhood within the “insane Hollywood system.”

Marx, Coen, Farrelly. Add to that list the Duplass brothers, who have been carving out a place for themselves as writers, directors, producers, and actors (Mark in The League, Jay in Transparent, etc.). In her foreword to this jumpy, eclectic collection of odds and ends, Mindy Kaling writes that the brothers are funny, “woke as hell,” and have a “tireless entrepreneurial spirit that inspires.” The brothers write that the book is “filled with essays on all kinds of things,” which isn’t exactly true. There are some—e.g., a short piece on why the band Air Supply is so good or the value of The Karate Kid Part II (even though “there are so many things wrong with this movie”)—but mostly this is a hodgepodge of autobiographical sketches, lists of favorite movies (actually the same list slightly edited over and over), emails, rough screenplays, advice to young filmmakers, Mark’s short story “The Blowjob,” edited by Jay, comments from their wives, and “Airport” 1-5, in which the brothers make up filmic scenarios inspired by the people they see walking and sitting about. We learn that they grew up outside New Orleans and had great boyhoods. Creative and ambitious kids, they played around with a video recorder their father gave them and started writing little scenarios and filming them. In 1996, they started Duplass Brothers Productions and got to work. We follow them in action as they fail (Vince del Rio) and succeed (Cyrus). They made The Puffy Chair for $10,000 and premiered it at the Sundance Film Festival. Other successes followed, including HBO’s Togetherness series (2015), until cancelled, and Room 104 (2017).

A rather chaotic and messy tale of talent, determination, and success in the world of independent film and TV that hardcore fans will enjoy.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-96771-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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The author’s consistently absorbing commentary on a wide variety of legal cases will require close attention by readers, but...

THE MAKING OF A JUSTICE

REFLECTIONS ON MY FIRST 94 YEARS

The retired Supreme Court justice chronicles his impressive life story, including his 34-year tenure with the court.

Born in 1920, Stevens (Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, 2014, etc.) recounts his privileged upbringing, early law career, and lower-court experience before providing nearly 400 pages of year-by-year decision-making as a Supreme Court justice. A Republican appointed by President Gerald Ford, Stevens transcended the party ideology of many court colleagues in order to work together with those appointed by Democratic presidents. Despite the conventional wisdom of court chroniclers who identify justices as “conservative” or “liberal,” the author’s majority opinions and dissents cannot be easily pigeonholed. He candidly shares his thought processes on hundreds of cases, often openly criticizing his fellow justices for their lack of legal acumen and/or lack of compassion. Stevens is frequently critical of justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas for the refuge they have sought in the theory of originalism. Refreshingly, though, the author never attacks his fellow justices in a personal, gossipy manner, and he discusses his varying degrees of friendship with each of them. Stevens theorizes that the dynamics of the court—and the nature of the rulings—undergo transformation every time a new justice joins. As a result, the author presents brief sections about the immediate impact of each new justice during his 34 years, ending with his successor in 2010, Elena Kagan. Although Stevens reveres the court’s reputation as a nonpartisan arbiter, he realizes that reputation has never fully recovered from the politically tinged 5-4 ruling in 2000 that handed the presidency to George W. Bush rather than Al Gore. The author also offers searing commentary on cases involving abortion rights, gun control, wrongful convictions in criminal courts, campaign finance, and many other ongoing societal issues.

The author’s consistently absorbing commentary on a wide variety of legal cases will require close attention by readers, but the payoff is worth it.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-48964-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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