A book that could have been funnier, though admittedly Maslin delivers more chuckles per page than Renata Adler. The book is...

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PETER ARNO

THE MAD, MAD WORLD OF THE NEW YORKER'S GREATEST CARTOONIST

The life of the once-influential cartoonist, a favorite of New Yorker readers for decades.

Maslin, himself a longtime contributor of cartoons to the magazine, joins a long list of staffers and freelancers to look back longingly on the eras of Harold Ross and, after him, William Shawn and anyone who is not Tina Brown. His subject, Peter Arno (1904-1968), drew sketches and cartoons from the very beginning, way back in the Jazz Age. Maslin writes, rather too enthusiastically, “for forty-three years, from 1925 to 1968, Arno’s art was as essential to The New Yorker as the Empire State Building is to the Manhattan skyline.” (Ross would not have approved of the hyperbole, though Arno probably wouldn’t have minded.) Arno also wrote plays, designed sets, painted, and did piles of commercial art for other clients, which caused Ross to worry. Arno, he wrote in a 1944 memo, “like the rest of the artists, is swamped with advertising work these days, and is feeling cocky and restless.” In the end, Arno also drank with the copious abandon of Thurber and the other inmates, which did not serve him well. As Maslin writes, he was a man of parts; he might have been a musical star. But the author credits Arno particularly for inventing the New Yorker cartoon—i.e., the kind of cartoon for which the magazine would become renowned, droll and arch, dry and ironic. Although Maslin does not take this fruitful thesis as far as he might or supply much in the way of example, he does note that that Arno-esque vision is antiquated now, though all cartoonists from the start have had to ask themselves the same question from Ross and predecessors: “Is it funny?”

A book that could have been funnier, though admittedly Maslin delivers more chuckles per page than Renata Adler. The book is also insightful about the workings of a magazine that is a critically important cultural institution.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942872-61-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Regan Arts

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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