For readers with an interest in Francocentric views of current events.


Editorials, occasional pieces, and interviews by and with the prickly French writer.

“The logical consequences of individualism are murder and unhappiness,” Houellebecq tells an interlocutor, going on to spin out a soliloquy that takes in quantum physics, the abandonment of psychoanalysis, the molecular basis of consciousness, and the ecological disasters we’re careening toward. The author’s sententious writings are of a piece, if often more personal: He doesn’t like going to parties, for instance, and though they can be made more tolerable with a “nice dose of hallucinogenic plants,” the question still stands, “What the hell am I doing with these jerks?” Houellebecq has been deemed a reactionary, but the political stance here is a sort of Cartesian socialism with a strong dash of religion—religion not necessarily for any reason other than that it “offers the feeling of being connected to the world,” and not just any old religion, especially not Islam. It’s to that faith that Houellebecq cheerfully admits a profound hostility, and one of his best-known literary works is his 2015 novel, Submission, which depicts a France under Islamist domination thanks to colluding politicians. The author defends the right to Islamophobia, which would seem less likely to get a person cancelled in France than in the U.S., but he’s not afraid of adding fuel to that particular fire. He’s also one of the few European intellectuals to openly praise Donald Trump, though for subtle reasons: “Unlike liberals (as fanatical as Communists, in their own way), President Trump does not see free global trade as the alpha and omega of human progress.” Moreover, he adds, Trump’s weakening of ties to NATO and his isolationism leave the world stage open for France to reassert its influence. Houellebecq closes with a suitably slippery view of the Covid-19 pandemic, featuring a dour summation: “We won’t wake up, after lockdown, in a new world; it will be the same world, but a bit worse.”

For readers with an interest in Francocentric views of current events.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5095-4995-5

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Polity

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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 top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.


The acclaimed director displays his talents as a film critic.

Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful. The Oscar-winning director of classic films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs offers plenty of attitude with his thoughts on movies ranging from Animal House to Bullitt to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Big Chill. Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something. The concepts he smashes together in two sentences about Taxi Driver would take a semester of film theory class to unpack. Taxi Driver isn’t a “paraphrased remake” of The Searchers like Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a paraphrased remake of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill is a paraphrased remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. But it’s about as close as you can get to a paraphrased remake without actually being one. Robert De Niro’s taxi driving protagonist Travis Bickle is John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like. Perhaps not surprisingly, the author was raised by movie-loving parents who took him along to watch whatever they were watching, even if it included violent or sexual imagery. At the age of 8, he had seen the very adult MASH three times. Suddenly the dark humor of Kill Bill makes much more sense. With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras.

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-311258-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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