A fresh take on memoir writing that offers moments of humor and insight but fails to live up to its potential.

THE FIRST TEN YEARS

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME LOVE STORY

In this joint memoir, Fink and Bashwiner recount the first decade of their relationship.

In a chronological narrative, the authors take turns sharing their perspective of significant events in their lives, beginning with their first meeting in 2009 while selling tickets to an art collective in the East Village. He was from Southern California and hoped to become a writer. She was from New Jersey and dreamed of being in the theater. As their story begins, readers will discover familiar feelings of joy and uncertainty as the authors explore the details of their new relationship, including their first date, first kiss, and, later, the decisions to move in together and to get married. The authors also share accessible moments of doubt, fear, stress, and heartbreak, including fights and disagreements, loss of self-confidence, and feelings of mental and emotional turmoil. However, at the point in the text when their careers begin to take off, the tone and accessibility shift. The details of their careers become the primary focus, especially repetitive discussions from both authors about the creation and ongoing success of Welcome to Night Vale, a podcast based on the concept that the listener has tuned in to a rural radio station in the fictitious Southwest desert town of Night Vale. “It was something we had no control over. We had no choice but to keep saying yes to all the new opportunities it offered us,” writes Bashwiner, whose increased use of profanity begins to lose its emphatic effect as the book progresses. Toward the end of the text, both sides of the narrative begin to turn around, as the authors discuss universally relatable feelings about having children. However, the story never fully recovers.

A fresh take on memoir writing that offers moments of humor and insight but fails to live up to its potential.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302725-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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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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