Loads of good, dirty fun.

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WHORE STORIES

A REVEALING HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION

Everything—and everyone—seems to be for sale in these riotous biographical sketches of famous and infamous prostitutes.

Like his subjects, humorist and The Nervous Breakdown contributor Smith wants to offer a good time. In these nuggets of smarmy gossip, he rambles across the whole history of whoredom, from the Roman empress Messalina, who was said to have gone to work in a brothel for kicks, to latter-day strumpets Heidi Fleiss and Jeff Gannon, the online escort who moonlighted in the White House press corps. He toasts brainy 17th-century courtesans, like the Chinese poetess Liu Rushi and the French philosophe Ninon de L’Enclos, and modernist littérateur Jean Genet, who peddled himself to British sailors for sardines and bread. His favorite category of prostitute is the kind you’d never imagine, among whom he numbers Malcolm X, Hollywood he-men Steve McQueen and Clark Gable, and The Brady Bunch’s adorable Maureen McCormick. Smith wouldn’t be caught dead drawing sociological insights from any of this data; he’s strictly out to regale readers with lurid anecdotes, chortling color commentary—“Hell hath no fury like a whore cheated out of her opera tickets”—and miscellaneous zingers. For instance, Bob Dylan’s dubious claim to have sold his body in his salad days makes the author wonder why anyone would pay for sex with “a jaundiced gnu.” Despite his assertion of a nonjudgmental stance, Smith is furiously judgmental toward anyone who cops a moralistic attitude: Televangelist (and secret john) Jimmy Swaggart is “a loathsome pig too tainted even for the abattoir,” and Nancy Reagan is a “hypocritical charlatan.” There’s nothing too edifying between these covers—even the digressions on Diogenes and Hegel are lightweight—but Smith’s caustic wit and bawdy exuberance will keep readers amused.

Loads of good, dirty fun.

Pub Date: July 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1440536052

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Adams Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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