Bob Mankoff, cartoon and humor editor for Esquire, former New Yorker cartoon editor, and author of the memoir How About Never—Is Never Good For You?, introduces this collection of his favorite Jewish cartoons, Have I Got a Cartoon for You! (MomentBooks, $19.95), by quipping that the People of the Book are also “the People of the Joke.” Exploring how Jewish humorists have drawn on traditions such us Talmudic disputation for material, Mankoff surveys the long tradition of Jewish humor and the cartoon’s place in it and refl ects on how his own Jewish heritage—which included early experiences of Borscht Belt comedians like Jerry Lewis and Buddy Hackett—shaped his career as a cartoonist.
Fabulous mortician extraordinaire and founder of the Order of the Good Death Caitlin Doughty is back with another book, this one specifi cally designed to educate and create a more honest engagement with death. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? (W.W. Norton, $25.95) includes answers to more than fifty questions posed to Doughty by her young fans. The kids are great at getting to the heart of any matter, even death, in the most straightforward fashion, hence their no-nonsense queries such as, “why do we turn colors when we die?” and “what happens when the cemetery is full?” Doughty is equally candid in her answers, bringing both her expertise and her engaging writing style to brief and fascinating chapters. The essays are accompanied by wonderfully macabre and quirky drawings by Dianné Ruz, making this book a great library addition for readers of any age.
Following his previous books, What If and Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe is back with How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems (Riverhead, $28). In this indispensable and, as always, lavishly illustrated—in his signature stick-figure style—volume, Munroe offers solutions to how to “dig a hole,” “play the piano,” “play tag,” and “power your house,”—among many other common conundrums and problems. Some of these are so commonplace they don’t seem to require a solution, but Munroe demonstrates that physical laws underlie even the most straightforward things we do. How To is part entertaining collection of scientific facts—such as how many piano keys you will need to add to your keyboard to be able to play music for dogs—to tongue-incheek, possibly dubious advice on how to move all your boxes to another house just by pushing them with a pickup truck. This volume might not be 100% useful, but it is 100% fascinating—and fun.