An enviable life shared with candor, emotion, and knockout storytelling power.

THESE PRECIOUS DAYS

ESSAYS

In a series of essays, the beloved novelist opens the door and invites you into her world.

As she herself is aware, Patchett has a gift for friendship—never clearer than in the magical and heartbreaking title essay, which made the rounds from friend to friend by way of texted links when originally published in Harper’sduring the pandemic. (If you haven't read it yet, get ready for Tom Hanks, Kundalini yoga, cancer treatment, and a profound yearning to be a guest in Patchett's Nashville home.) Like This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage(2013), this book contains a mixture of occasional essays and profound ones, all previously published. Patchett includes the text of a wonderful lecture on her "feral" experience in graduate school in Iowa and an introduction written for the collected stories of Eudora Welty that seems as perfect as the stories themselves. In addition to family and friendship—"Three Fathers" and "Flight Plan" are standouts in this category—several essays deal with aspects of the writing life. The author explores the process of managing one’s papers and offers various angles on how one comes to the vocation of literature. "Influence," she writes, "is a combination of circumstance and luck: what we are shown and what we stumble upon in those brief years when our hearts and minds are fully open." Patchett also writes delightfully about Snoopy, the cartoon beagle and would-be novelist, first among her literary influences. Toward the end of the book, Patchett digs into Updike, Bellow, and Roth. Perhaps a few of the slighter pieces could have been left out, but even those have great lines and interesting paragraphs. A bracingly testy essay about the author’s decision not to have children will give readers crucial pointers on conversational gambits to avoid should you ever get that houseguest invitation.

An enviable life shared with candor, emotion, and knockout storytelling power.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-309278-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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

NIGHT

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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