A pleasant, witty memoir from an American diner owner in France.

LET THEM EAT PANCAKES

ONE MAN'S PERSONAL REVOLUTION IN THE CITY OF LIGHT

More tales from the owner of the Breakfast in America diners in France.

In this follow-up to Pancakes in Paris, Carlson shares more intimate and engaging stories of how he fell in love with France and a Frenchman while running his well-known diners. Although he starts out slowly, reminiscing about his childhood, the author quickly ups the tempo as he regales readers with the comical story of Pigeon Man, an older gentleman who insisted on feeding hundreds of pigeons in front of Carlson’s building. In addition to describing the physical mess the birds created, the author discusses the bureaucratic red tape he had to cut through to get the Pigeon Man to move. Carlson then shares memories of how he learned French and gives readers advice on how to learn the language more efficiently than he did (the text features French words and phrases sprinkled throughout). As a business owner, Carlson spends a good portion of the text discussing the ways in which French employers differ from Americans when it comes to their employees, from providing far more vacation time and maternity/paternity leave to the near impossibility of firing someone even due to poor performance. The author ponders the French fondness for smoking and the love locks placed by tourists on the bridges in Paris, and he explains the importance of Thanksgiving to him, which motived him to provide Thanksgiving dinner for more than 100 people. “Every year,” he writes, “BIA was featured in magazines and social media as one of the places in the world where Americans could celebrate Turkey Day abroad….For me, what I loved most about the holiday was its simplicity; just dining and drinking with loved ones for hours on end.” Of course, Carlson explores both French and American food, whether cooked at his diner, at a high-end French restaurant, or by his mother-in-law.

A pleasant, witty memoir from an American diner owner in France.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-440-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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