A colorful, bittersweet romp through Old Fartdom.

How Did That Old Fart Get into My Mirror?

MRS. KORSAKOV, CAN RIMSKY COME OUT AND PLAY?

A retired director for The Ed Sullivan Show takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through the joys and perils of aging.

Part memoir, part smorgasbord of fun (but maybe not always accurate) facts, Schwarz’s quirky but sweet debut brims with fast-paced anecdotes about his life amid Wikipedia-type information—the causes of cataracts, the functions of the human heart, and the history of pants. Schwarz, 84, also paints vivid pictures of his childhood and his long-term career in television. The heartbeat of Schwarz’s memoir, however, is his 56-year marriage to his wife, Mimi. Schwarz favors age-related yuks, but the discussion usually spins off into various topics. For example, a story about his “Old Fart” blood pressure also includes mention of the sphygmomanometer and its origin. That tidbit turns into an analysis of how blood pressure works. He adds striking and often poignant life memories to the mix, such as the time when, during a romantic vacation in Venice, Mimi saw trash in the water and exclaimed, “In my memory it will be perfectly blue and crystal clear.”  At his best, Schwarz’s voice is reminiscent of Groucho Marx. Take, for instance, his description of the Japanese paperless toilet: “It washes, rinses, blow dries and even has a heating element for those shivery cold days; just be thankful it doesn’t iron out the wrinkles.” Other times, he sounds like a relentlessly chatty guy at a cocktail party who corners his victims with a dizzying array of trivia—from horses and Scythians to codpieces and corsets. Nevertheless, Schwarz’s friendly, cogent prose creates a buoyant page-turner. His homespun humor is affecting and may resonate with readers who don’t mind laughing at their own gray hair or leaky body parts (“It All Depends on Depends”). Some may wish he had spent a little less time on the parts of the eyeball and a little more time writing about his fascinating television career—he once worked with Janis Joplin. A shift in tone occurs abruptly at the book’s conclusion when Mimi becomes seriously ill. Here, Schwarz’s knee-slapping humor quickly melts into memorable sadness and reflection.

A colorful, bittersweet romp through Old Fartdom.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5330-1890-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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