Jules Feiffer, the great and original cartoonist, playwright, and children’s-book writer has written an aw-shucks memoir with Backing Into Forward (Nan A. Talese, $30). I am only a few years younger than Mr. Feiffer and the times he writes about are my times. I found the memoir incredibly evocative, from the amazingly puritanical relationships between young men and women in the ’50s, to the emerging counter-culture of the ’60s. Of course, many of Jules Feiffer’s finest cartoons illustrate the memories. Feiffer invented his own comedic process, which evolved from his way of viewing the world and his sensitivity to his own neurosis. He turned his army years and the scary Joseph McCarthy period into satire. He apprenticed with Will Eisner. He came of age as the Village Voice was beginning and became intimately identified with the fledgling alternative paper. He worked on a number of projects with Mike Nichols, including the iconic movie Carnal Knowledge. He knew everybody working in comedy and comics. This is a happy memoir from a man who has accomplished what he wanted to do with his life and had great fun doing it.

Backing into Forward: A Memoir Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780226240350
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - April 10th, 2012

I’m a new member of the Christopher Hitchens fan club, a club I joined because I love  his complicated but thoroughly enjoyable new memoir, Hitch 22 (Twelve, $26.99). A bon vivant whose polemics have often masked a deeply-felt and intensely thoughtful personal life, Hitchens is uncharacteristically reflective as he approaches 60. He was born into a family that functioned best in the company of guests or pets, and he was badly scarred by a mother who committed suicide.  But, not surprisingly, the most interesting sections of this memoir revolve around the life of the mind; here’s Hitchens as a passionate young socialist who gave up any idea or plan for a “radiant future” to become the enemy of “absolute certainty.” That’s his Hitch-22--the need “to combat the absolutists and the relativists at the same time: to maintain that there is no totalitarian solution while also insisting that, yes, we on our side have unalterable convictions.”

Hitch-22: A Memoir Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780446540346
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Twelve - June 3rd, 2011

Patti Smith’s unique fusing of Rimbaud and Beat-inspired poetry to the shamanic energy of rock & roll culminated in her first record, Horses (Arista, $9.98), released in 1975, with a beautiful cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe. Her beautifully written memoir of her years as an emerging artist, Just Kids (Ecco, $27), is an inspiring tale told with tenderness, grace, wit, and vulnerability. It’s also a dual portrait of Patti and of Robert—her serendipitous protector, lover, collaborator, and lifelong friend—in a long-lost bohemian New York of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The book features memorable appearances by Sam Shepard, Gregory Corso, Harry Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and many other heroes, mentors, friends, and supporters. Just Kids is the perfect gift for present and future poets, musicians, and artists of all kinds, and describes the vision, will, and tenacity that is needed to succeed.

Just Kids Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780066211312
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - January 19th, 2010

Just Kids Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780060936228
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Ecco - November 2nd, 2010