A sharp, entertaining foray into one of civilization’s most ancient and agonizing quandaries.




An investigation of one of the primary downsides of alcohol that has forever plagued and puzzled the world’s drinkers: the common hangover.

“You tumble from dreams of deserts and demons into semi-consciousness,” writes Bishop-Stall (Writing/Univ. of Toronto School of Continuing Studies; Ghosted, 2010, etc.). “Your mouth is full of sand. A voice is calling from far away, as if back in that blurry desert. It is begging you for water. You try to move, but can’t.” In an attempt to pinpoint an effective cure to this morning-after curse, the author plunges into his own lost weekend, emerging with an irreverent, quasi-clinical narrative thick with witty anecdotes and hilarious asides. This is not a treatise on methods of conquering a hangover, nor a step-by-step guide on how to deliver oneself from the evils of this ancient ailment. In his travels to the world’s most notorious drinking spots, including Amsterdam, Scotland, New Orleans, and Las Vegas, the author engaged with all manner of experts and researchers. Along the way, he imbibed every alcoholic concoction imaginable, often while juggling multiple writing assignments. He also met dozens of interesting people, and he tells their stories as well as the backgrounds of various cocktails, the etymology of alcohol-associated words, and the ever changing cultural mores surrounding drunkenness since the Dark Ages. Between visits to various commercial detox clinics that offer IV drip treatments, Bishop-Stall experimented with the often “messy, stinky, dodgy work” of trying nearly every practical (and impractical) morning-after solution ever invented. These include modern pills and nutritional supplements, offbeat recipes like mixing charcoal powder with milk, and, of course, the classic remedy: the hair of the dog. Eventually, Bishop-Stall arrived at a cure of sorts, which he shares with readers. “Yes, I have found a cure for the common hangover—or, more accurately, an antidote, or perhaps a prophylactic,” he writes. “But essentially it is a cure.”

A sharp, entertaining foray into one of civilization’s most ancient and agonizing quandaries.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-14-312670-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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