Uneven, but more hits than misses.

MY CUSTOM VAN

AND 50 OTHER MIND-BLOWING ESSAYS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND ALL OVER YOUR FACE

Stand-up comedian and character actor Black debuts with an amusing collection of essays.

For years the author has augmented his stand-up career with a variety of roles in film (most notably in Wet Hot American Summer) and television, including great work on the criminally short-lived MTV sketch show, The State. Many of these roles have honed his unique ability to deliver dry, often hyperbolic jabs at, well, seemingly anything that pops into his head. In his first book, those topics include David Sedaris (“It’s important to understand that when you read the words ‘David Sedaris’ and ‘suck it,’ they are not actually directed at David Sedaris the person, but more at the idea of David Sedaris”; shopkeeping (“A shoppe is a place where business is conducted, yes, but it’s also a place where friendships are formed, trust earned, scented candles smelled”); Socratic reasoning (the hilarious “Using the Socratic Method to Determine What It Would Take for Me to Voluntarily Eat Dog Shit for the Rest of My Life”); and his own writing talent (“Acceptance Speech I Plan to Give Upon Receiving Some Kind of Important Literary Prize for Writing this Book”). Black also includes plenty of adolescent humor of the sexual and scatological nature, including “This Is How I Party” (“to win…means showing up alone, but going home with the HOTTEST girl who is the LEAST conscious”), “How to Approach the Sensitive Question: Anal?” and “Why I Used a Day-Glo Marker to Color My Dick Yellow.” As can be expected in a collection of 50 short essays, there are some misfires, including a couple lame stabs at offbeat erotic fiction and a few half-formed pieces like “Now We Will Join Forces, You and I” and “Stan the Oracle.” But the best entries, like his take on the “Infinite Monkey Probability Theorem,” are mini comic gems: “Upon closer examination, however, I realized that what I was reading was not Hamlet, but the second act of Your Five Gallants, by the lesser Elizabethan playwright Thomas Middleton. So frustrating!!!”

Uneven, but more hits than misses.

Pub Date: July 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6405-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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