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YOU CAN'T TOUCH MY HAIR

AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN

Up-and-down humor that sometimes gets to the heart of the realities of being black in America.

A black female comedian lays it all out there.

Stand-up comic and co-star of the WNYC podcast 2 Dope Girls, Robinson has a lot to complain about, starting with the need people have to touch her hair. In case readers fail to pick up on her humorous vibes regarding hair, the author includes a second chapter on the history of black hair in film, TV, and other media. Throughout the book—a hybrid of humor, truth-telling, and poking-fun-at-life-in-general—Robinson delves into what it means to be a woman and black and, more importantly, a black woman in today’s American society. Filled with references to pop culture and plenty of hashtags, the narrative addresses issues like how to avoid being the one black friend in a group of white people, the difficulty of being hired to play a role in a show because you’re either too black or too light, and why NFL players need to treat women better. She gives readers her list of nine guilty pleasures (No. 1: “Ranking Members of U2 in the Order of Whom I Want to Sleep With”; The Edge is first) and a list of demands for a future female president, including penalizing those who perpetuate the thigh-gap obsession. She also explains why “Lisa Bonet is Bae. Queen. Jesus” and waxes poetic on why she takes her laundry home to her parents’ house. “If a person were to play [the dryer] in a movie—don’t ask me why—it would be played by Meryl Streep,” she writes. “The dryer is that damn good.” Although the humor is forced and tiresome in places, Robinson does hit the mark on some important issues, and fans of her podcast will enjoy the book.

Up-and-down humor that sometimes gets to the heart of the realities of being black in America.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-312920-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Plume

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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

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