Haunting and lovely: Readers will eagerly join Nesi in his remembrances.

SENTIMENTAL ECONOMY

A beautiful and heartbreaking account of how the author—and the world—navigated the early part of the pandemic.

At just over two years into this yet-to-end global pandemic, it’s sensible to question if books tackling the experience are a “too soon” item. Nesi, who won the Strega Prize for Story of My People, gracefully handles that exact challenge in this lush work, translated from Italian. Ranging from economics to love and countless stops in between, the author filters his discussions through the lens of what unfolded during 2020 and how it affected business, politics, the arts, and global health. “What types of work, after all, are now to be considered unnecessary, not crucial, and dispensable,” asks Nesi, “if the work in question allows a people to survive?” The author generously synthesizes his personal experiences, taking readers with him as he chronicles his visits to places such as markets and town squares, places of business, and the beach, where he went to rest. Through it all, he laments the changes brought about by unpredictable viruses, giving readers permission to mourn the world that was and reflect on the time when we moved freely, indulged and enjoyed life, and socialized with little understanding of its fragility. ‌Nesi is in a unique position to examine the material things that consumers value in a world that has shuttered. In the new normal, Tuscany, where the author lives, cannot fully stem the worry and constant sense of doom and uncertainty—a situation faced by people across the world. Despite repeated references to the idea that nothing new has come about since the 1970s and that we are instead moving within a “maximum possible point of development,” Nesi sprinkles hope throughout the book. It's not easy to stitch economics and emotions together on the page, but the author accomplishes it with aplomb.

Haunting and lovely: Readers will eagerly join Nesi in his remembrances. (N/A)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63542-214-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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