Next book



A terrific appraisal of culture’s gypsies, tramps and thieves, worthy of the editors’ judgment: “Obituaries for bohemia...

What do Walt Whitman, Josephine Baker and Woody Guthrie have in common? Here, their lives are interwoven with the artistic and cultural movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, all under the umbrella of “bohemianism.”

Brooklyn-based writer Berger and prolific graphic-arts editor Buhle (A People’s History of American Empire: A Graphic Adaptation, 2008, etc.) make fine selections in this thoughtful successor to Harvey Pekar’s The Beats: A Graphic History (2009). In a thorough introduction, Buhle explains the roots of the idea of bohemianism: The real Bohemia, a geographical entity eventually swallowed up by the Czech Republic, was misidentified by French journalists as the source of Europe’s gypsy culture. But Berger and Buhle focus more on those remarkable individuals and movements whose artistic and political spirits ran contrary to the traditions of their times. The writers get the most attention, with stories devoted to spiritual comrades Whitman, Oscar Wilde and Henry Miller, among others. Two very different stories examine the grace of dancer Baker and the beautiful, messy story of Billie Holiday and the song “Strange Fruit.” Other chapters combine stories to capture the origins of cultural movements, such as “Art and the Artist,” which portrays the arrival of modern art in New York in 1915 in astonishing detail. Other chapters summarize the arcs of the labor movement, modern dance and the earliest seeds of the folk music movement, represented here by Guthrie. All of the art is bold and visually distinct; fittingly, many of the artists have deep roots in the underground comics scene—e.g., Peter Kuper. A truly poignant coda by cartoonist Mark Crilley imagines a young Pekar and R. Crumb spending a day together in Cleveland, visiting record and book stores, talking shop and lamenting the paving over of the old world.

A terrific appraisal of culture’s gypsies, tramps and thieves, worthy of the editors’ judgment: “Obituaries for bohemia have, in short, always been premature.”

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78168-261-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

Next book


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

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

Next book



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview