A thoroughly amusing collection that takes readers beyond the big top.

Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion


An episodic memoir from the founder of the Big Apple Circus, a New York City mainstay of family entertainment for almost 40 years.

Brooklyn-born Binder has lived a colorful and creative life, from stints working for Merv Griffin and Julia Child, to his time as a juggler traveling through Europe, to his life’s greatest work: founding the Big Apple Circus. The book jumps around to hit various key moments in his life, including the moment he first saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the beginning of his jaunt to England to form a juggling act with a friend, and meeting his wife, a beautiful Danish equestrienne and circus performer. The cast of characters includes world-renowned clowns, jugglers, acrobats and other international performers, as well as the technicians and trainers who put the nuts and bolts of such an epic show together. Binder has a knack for language, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering how many years he has spent as a ringmaster and entertainer, juggling words, as well as objects, for his audiences. Some of the insider tales and snippets are a little more mundane than magical; not everyone is going to find a random rainy day or an encounter with a waitress in a small Southern town as interesting and amusing as Binder clearly does. For every dud, however, there are twice as many gems, such as the exciting post–Tiananmen Square drama that led the circus’ Chinese acrobats, who were afraid of being forced to return to their troubled homeland, to run away, bringing the attentions of government agencies and embassies to the Big Apple Circus. With a loving foreword by Glenn Close and celebrity cameos from Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams, Paul Newman and many more, these stories make it easy to see why Binder is a beloved, respected figure in the world of the circus.

A thoroughly amusing collection that takes readers beyond the big top.

Pub Date: April 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481731911

Page Count: 216

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2013

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Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

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The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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