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In “Inside Comedy,” the legendary David Steinberg takes readers through the decades he has spent working with dozens of icons, including Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and the late Robin WilliamsBy MOLLY SPRAYREGEN Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 1:51 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Inside Comedy” by David Steinberg (Knopf)The legendary David Steinberg was one of the best-known comedians of the late ’60s and ’70s. His acclaimed stand-up career included 140 appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” four comedy albums and two Grammy nominations. He has directed episodes of “Friends,” “Mad About You,” “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and more.And if can think of a famous comedian, Steinberg has probably worked with them.His new book, “Inside Comedy,” takes readers through the decades he has spent working with dozens of icons, including Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, and the late Robin Williams.Through personal stories, Steinberg provides a backstage pass to life in comedy. We are onstage with him and Williams. We are sitting beside him as he interviews Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. We are experiencing the rush of performing at Second City and inside comedy clubs alongside him.Steinberg paints deep and intimate portraits of the comedians we know and love. He tells us their life stories, how they found comedy, and gives us insight into who they really are. In doing so, he also takes us through the development of comedy over the past several decades.While they can sometimes go on a little long, the stories Steinberg tells are a true delight. He is funny, warm, and heartfelt as he recounts life in an industry it is clear he deeply loves. He speaks of his fellow comedians with endless admiration and respect, making it impossible not to fall in love with each one of them. Lovers of comedy will surely adore this adventure behind the scenes.
In Emily Austin’s first novel, “Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead,” 27-year-old Gilda is anxious, insecure and lostBy MOLLY SPRAYREGEN Associated PressJuly 5, 2021, 1:52 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead,” by Emily Austin (Atria)In Emily Austin’s first novel, “Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead,” 27-year-old Gilda is anxious, insecure and lost. She struggles to hold down a job and is a massive hypochondriac, visiting the emergency room multiple times per week.She is constantly thinking about death, how many ways there are to die, and the insignificance of her own existence. She’s also obsessed with making sure her presence in the world does not have a harmful effect on others. Everyday tasks are difficult for her. Often, she can’t bring herself to respond to texts from a girl she really likes, show up to work, or even do the dishes.One day, Gilda responds to a flyer for free therapy at a Roman Catholic church. When she arrives, the priest thinks she is there for a job interview to replace the receptionist who had recently died. Gilda, who just lost her job, doesn’t correct him.She is hired, and now Gilda, a gay atheist, must work undercover every day as a straight Catholic. But as the circumstances of the former receptionist’s death become more and more suspicious, Gilda finds herself swept up in a murder investigation.Filled with dark humor, “Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead” is a beguiling read. Gilda is wholly unique, yet at the same time, exceedingly relatable. The world through her eyes is often a terrifying one, but it is one that anyone who has dealt with anxiety will no doubt recognize. Through it all, Gilda’s endlessly good heart shines through, making her impossible not to root for.
In “God Spare the Girls” by Kelsey McKinney, Abigail and Caroline are the daughters of celebrity evangelical pastor Luke NolanBy MOLLY SPRAYREGEN Associated PressJuly 1, 2021, 3:04 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“God Spare the Girls,” by Kelsey McKinney (William Morrow)In “God Spare the Girls,” Abigail and Caroline are the daughters of celebrity evangelical pastor Luke Nolan. Always on display for the congregation, the pair are expected to be pious, pure, and polite at all times. While they aren’t always able to abide by scripture exactly, Abigail and Caroline more or less believe in their religion and their father — until one revelation changes everything.After they learn of a terrible sin committed by their father, Abigail and Caroline’s world is turned upside down. Now, they must decide whether he is worth forgiving and what faith really means. While they work to figure it out, the sisters flee their parents’ home to the ranch their grandmother left them and live there together.Meanwhile, Abigail is planning a wedding to a man she doesn’t love, and Caroline is dealing with a boy who fell too hard for her after they committed a sin of their own.Author Kelsey McKinney is a strong and compelling storyteller and has crafted a captivating small town world full of gossip and intrigue. “God Spare the Girls” beautifully explores the challenges of young womanhood in the context of a religion that has its own very strict ideas about what it means to be a good daughter, sister, and wife.Above all else, “God Spare the Girls” is a touching and powerful story of a bond between two sisters navigating a world and life they never chose. It is a beautifully rendered spin on classic coming-of-age tales, with the characters navigating intricate layers of relationships with themselves, with each other and with their faith.
Associated Press critic Molly Sprayregen writes that Brandon Taylor’s “Filthy Animals,” a book of interconnected short stories, is a chronicle of pain, identity, recovery and the desperation we all feel for human connectionBy MOLLY SPRAYREGEN Associated PressJune 22, 2021, 7:16 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Filthy Animals,” by Brandon Taylor (Riverhead)Brandon Taylor’s “Filthy Animals,” a book of interconnected short stories, is a chronicle of pain, identity, recovery and the desperation we all feel for human connection.A depressed and lonely man recovering from a suicide attempt finds himself caught in a love triangle with two dancers in an open relationship; a group of teenagers unable to control their emotions resort to brutal violence against one another; a young woman battles a terrifying illness; a babysitter recovering from a recent breakup finds herself stuck caring for a headstrong and wild little girl.The stories are wrought with emotion and complexity, yet at the same time, Taylor’s writing is soft, quiet, gentle. The stories feel almost like slices of life, but the every day is heightened by the intensity of the characters’ longing, desire, anger and, above all else, passion. To be human each day, the stories seem to say, is to feel deeply and urgently.Taylor’s characters are beautiful messes, with their flaws, uncertainty, and mistakes making them all the more intriguing and real. With some recurring in different stories, the reader is able to understand certain relationships from different perspectives and feel even more deeply the characters’ desperate attempts to connect to one another.The book is also wonderfully queer and presents queer love and identities with all the intricacy and uniqueness they deserve.
A love story and medical mystery all in one, Eleanor Henderson’s memoir “Everything I Have Is Yours” chronicles her husband’s battle with an unidentifiable illness, as well as the toll it takes on their relationship and familyBy MOLLY SPRAYREGEN Associated PressJune 14, 2021, 4:55 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Everything I Have Is Yours,” Eleanor Henderson (Flatiron Books)A love story and medical mystery all in one, Eleanor Henderson’s memoir “Everything I Have Is Yours” chronicles her husband’s battle with an unidentifiable illness, as well as the toll it takes on their relationship and family.Henderson takes readers through almost a decade of Aaron’s constantly evolving symptoms, from unexplainable lesions on his body to depression to hearing voices to Aaron’s absolute certainty that his body has been invaded by parasites. Together, the couple meet an endless stream of doctors and psychologists, who diagnose him with everything from schizophrenia to Bell’s palsy. Meanwhile, Aaron is not getting better, and the couple must also focus on raising their two children, as well as the other everyday challenges of marriage and family life.As they attend medical conferences, couple’s therapy, and more, Henderson invites readers to question the link between mental and physical illness, asking herself what criteria is needed to make an illness real.Interwoven with this journey, Eleanor also shares their love story, how they fell for each other at such young ages and remained ever-committed to building a life together.Henderson’s writing will pull at your every heart string. She is raw, emotional, vulnerable. Through it all, she allows herself to be wholly human. As often as she does the right thing to help Aaron, Henderson also reveals all the times she said and did the wrong one, all the errors she made on her journey to be the best, most supportive wife she could be.“Everything I Have Is Yours” is above all else, the story of a marriage that, like any, is filled with both an abundance of love and an abundance of obstacles. Henderson is able to craft the complexity of a relationship filled with understanding and mutual respect, yet at the same time, extreme disconnect.Hers is the story of two people determined to overcome the hand that has been dealt to them, two people who love each other so deeply that they refuse to let anything tear them apart.