Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 10, 2021

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Quotation of the Day

'I Wouldn't Be Alive Today Without Libraries'

"I am extremely grateful to be here to tell you how essential libraries have been to me in my life. Mine is a happier ending than I could ever have imagined for myself, for a kid from a background like mine. And that is thanks to libraries. It is thanks to librarians. It's genuinely no overstatement to say I don't think I'd be alive today without libraries....

"To have come so far from that wee girl in the not warm enough coat accompanied by the young mum just desperate for a rest in a warm, safe, free space where no one would ask her why she was there or move her along. To have come so far from that teen holding on by her fingernails, who used libraries to smash apart the narrow horizons life had given her. Libraries gave me everything. Libraries gave me a truly happy ending when so much said I should not have one."

--Author Kerry Hudson, speaking at the annual conference of CILIPS, Scotland's library and information specialists, as reported by the Bookseller

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black


Dave Eggers's The Every to Be Indie Hardcover Exclusive

The hardcover version of Dave Eggers's new novel The Every, a follow-up to his 2013 bestseller The Circle, will be available only from independent bookstores, the New York Times reported

McSweeney's will publish that version on October 5, with 32 different covers randomly distributed. While Vintage will publish the e-book and paperback versions of The Every just six weeks later, the hardcover will remain available only through indie bookstores and McSweeney's website.

"I don't like bullies," Eggers told the Times. "Amazon has been kicking sand in the face of independent bookstores for decades now."

The book, about the world's largest e-commerce website merging with the world's largest social media company and search engine, explores the power that monopolies have to dictate consumers' choices. The publication of The Every, Eggers continued, "seemed a good opportunity to push back a bit against the monopoly, Amazon, that currently rules the book world."

"Releasing this book via the largest monopoly out there--which has unquestionably forever changed both bookselling and even local retail--seemed strange," said Amanda Uhle, publisher of McSweeney's. Since late 2020, she, Eggers and the McSweeney's team have been discussing ways they could release the book in a way that "recognizes the questions it asks and feels like an authentic expression of how we always strive to do business at McSweeney's with integrity, with high standards, and at least one small element of adventure."

Finding a way to work around Amazon, Uhle added, proved difficult. Even though the idea sounded simple--celebrating and amplifying the work of independent bookstores--it was made "infinitely more challenging when that means trying to circumvent the world's largest e-commerce retailer at the same time."

She noted that it's never been about Amazon or trying to overthrow any system so much as it's been about inviting people to visit their local bookstore and to consider their buying choices. "Post-Covid, it seems like the perfect time to initiate those conversations and the perfect time to pop into a local shop and see what's on the shelves."

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Beyond This February Debuts As Online Shop

Beyond This February, a bookstore focused on Black authors and stories, has debuted as an online bookstore, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported. Owner Tamika Thompson is selling books through and audiobooks through, and she hopes to open a bricks-and-mortar store in Spartanburg, S.C., before Juneteenth 2022.

Thompson told the Herald-Journal that "it was a hassle" to find books for herself and her children that were written by Black authors and featured Black characters, and usually those titles would be available only in February. 

"In our area, what we have is, you might see those authors featured in February, or after a tragedy, and then not again," she explained.

With Beyond This February, she plans to bring Black authors to the forefront year-round and show customers the range of Black stories available. ""There's a range and a world of Black authors that reflect the fact that Black people are not monolithic. And so there's so many stories out there to be discovered in various different ranges."

Thompson added that she would prefer to open the physical store on Spartanburg's south side.

International Update: Australian Booksellers Conference Goes Online Only, OUP Closing Oxuniprint


This year's Australian Booksellers Association Conference, which had been scheduled for June 20-21 at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, has been switched digital-only because of Covid-19 concerns. 

"Due to the uncertainty in Victoria around in-person events, the Australian Booksellers Association has made the decision to take this year's conference attendance to online only," the ABA noted on the conference's home page. "In recognition of the ongoing difficulties faced by Melbourne booksellers and the bookselling community at large over the past 18 months, the conference live stream will be available free to all ABA member bookshops. This has been made possible due to the ongoing support of our generous conference sponsors."


Oxford University Press will close its subsidiary Oxuniprint, a printer "offering both lithographic and digital printing services for the press and commercial customers in the Oxford area," on August 27, the Bookseller reported, adding that the decision was criticized by union Unite. 

An OUP spokesperson said: "Oxuniprint has provided a valuable service to OUP and to its wide range of clients for many years. We are grateful to the whole team for their hard work and commitment over the years."

Unite blamed OUP's "increasing use of outsourcing abroad and its failure to take up the government's furlough scheme for contributing to the closure of the Kidlington site." The Bookseller noted this will be the first time in its history that none of the output of OUP will be printed in Oxford. 

The Guardian wrote that Oxuniprint’s closure "will mark the final chapter for centuries of printing in Oxford, where the first book was printed in 1478, two years after Caxton set up the first printing press in England. There was no formal university press in the city over the next century, but the university's right to print books was recognized in a decree in 1586, and later enhanced in the Great Charter secured by Archbishop Laud from Charles I, entitling it to print 'all manner of books.' "


After months of intense lobbying, the Dutch Booksellers Association "is looking forward to the results of Dutch government discussion on the establishment of the support fund for booksellers," the European & International Booksellers Federation's NewsFlash reported. "A large majority of the House of Representatives is in favor to launch a €20 million [about $24.4 million] guarantee fund  to support the physical book trade. The House expects the government to know this week whether it will implement the plan." 


TimeOut showcased the "9 most beautiful bookstores and libraries in Japan," noting that "these architectural marvels from the likes of Kengo Kuma and Tadao Ando are like shrines to literature.... From rural Tokyo to Osaka and even up to Hokkaido, these bookstores and libraries combine Japan's love of architecture and literature." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Christopher Rohe 

Bookseller Christopher Rohe, who "quietly shaped Chicago's famously robust literary scene, largely behind the scenes, tracking down, curating and selling the words and ideas and stories that would fill the bookshelves and minds of generations of readers," died May 17, the Chicago Tribune reported. He was 61. 

While still in his teens, Rohe joined Paul Rohe & Sons, Booksellers, the family's used and antiquarian book business. After the storefront closed in 1997, Rohe transitioned to selling books online, making it possible for him to, in his words, "keep putting good books into people's hands." He served on the Board of Directors of the Midwest Antiquarian Booksellers Association for more than 30 years, and also managed the group's annual Chicago Book Fair at Plumbers Union Hall. 

"You've heard of the book, A Gentle Madness?" said Jeannie Hoff, who married Rohe in 2010. "It was more than gentle. It was a deep, deep passion. Getting good books in people's hands who could appreciate them, but also the thrill of the hunt--to find the rare book, the amazing book. Sometimes books would come back around that he sold in his store. He'd go to an estate sale and see his price markings in them. The idea of this worldwide circulation of an object--it was fascinating for him. Not for everybody, but definitely for him."

Hoff also recalled that Rohe first saw her at the Seminary Co-op bookstore: "We met at a bookstore. Of course we did, right?"

"It's a lot of knowledge lost," Ric Addy, Rohe's longtime friend and the former owner of Shake Rattle and Read, told the Tribune, adding that Rohe taught him everything he knew about selecting and selling books and magazines. "I really didn't know what I was doing at first. If you brought a record to me, I could tell you about it right away. Chris was that way about books."

Shortly after Rohe died, Hoff asked his siblings and a friend of hers to help write an obituary. "One of my friends called him, 'A quiet man with a wry sense of humor who was intellectual without pretension,' " she recalled. "I thought that was right on. He was quiet. He grew up in a house full of intellectuals. But he was also kind of punk. He didn't follow directions and he didn't do what he was told by anybody. And I loved that."

Noting that Rohe "died too young and too quickly," the Tribune wrote: "But his sharp, curious mind and his generosity of spirit will live on, in the quiet, countless ways he fed Chicago's boundless, hopeful appetite for books and all that they teach us, about ourselves and one another."


Crosby on King's English Ownership Change: 'A Huge Honor'

Calvin Crosby
Betsy Burton

With Betsy Burton retiring this summer and selling her majority interest in the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, to Calvin Crosby, the Salt Lake Tribune spoke with them about the ownership transition.  

"It just came so fast because I had no intentions--there was no inkling--that I wanted to leave my job or California, until this notion that I could be part of the King's English," said Crosby, executive director of the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. "And then that was all I could think about."

"It was one of those moments when it just seemed like it was meant to be, because everything fit," Burton added, praising Crosby for his financial mind, "not just knowing how you're doing day to day, but what's in the air--and how you should get ready for what's in the air."

Crosby will be purchasing Burton's 40% share of the store as well the 20% held by Deon Hilger, a silent partner. With a 60% share of ownership Crosby will be majority owner, while Anne Holman will own the remaining 40% of the store.

Catherine Weller, co-owner of Weller Book Works in Salt Lake City, said Burton's retirement is "the end of an era, but it's most definitely not the end of a store.... Her willingness to speak out about issues, her passion about books, her love of reading an author--all of those things have just made her an extraordinary bookseller."

Weller also noted that Crosby "is just wonderful.... He is young and dynamic, and I'm sure he'll have a lot of different ideas. He's from here, so he knows the area and the culture."

Crosby, who spent his childhood in Orem, Lindon and Magna, Utah, credited the King's English, along with Sam Weller's Bookstore (now Weller Book Works) and the Orem Public Library "for my book addiction, my love of reading.... It just felt so good to be surrounded by books and nice people. I was darker than a lot of people, and I'm also gay. So to go to a place where none of that mattered, having that safe place, was everything to me."

Burton, he added, "is the most gracious person on the planet. Her love of the store, and the store's legacy--to be able to slip into that is a huge honor."

Image of the Day: Kim Harrison at Nicola's Books

Author Kim Harrison stopped by her local bookstore, Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, Mich., to sign and personalize Million Dollar Demon, the 15th book in the Hallows series. Nicola's is hosting a virtual launch for the book on June 15. Pictured: Harrison with half of the store's pre-orders for the book.


Personnel Changes at Macmillan Children's Publishing; Workman

At Macmillan Children's Publishing Group:

Morgan Rath has been promoted to senior publicist, from publicist.

Katie Quinn has been promoted to senior marketing manager, from marketing manager.

Teresa Ferraiolo has been promoted from associate marketing manager to marketing manager.

Gabriella Salpeter has been promoted from marketing coordinator to associate marketing manager.


At Workman Publishing:

Michelle Hilario-Ruiz has joined the Workman imprint as digital marketing & advertising assistant. Before that, she was marketing campaign associate at Caesars Entertainment in Atlantic City, N.J., and social media & account coordinator at Make It Pop Advertising, also in Atlantic City.

Constance Edmonds has been promoted to project manager, creative services for all Workman imprints. She has been with the company since 2017, most recently as creative services coordinator.

'Turtles in Progress' at BAM in Bangor, Maine

The Books-A-Million store in Bangor, Maine, recently acquired some unexpected neighbors: "Next time you visit us, please be mindful of our new friends growing here!" the store posted on Facebook. "This momma laid her eggs right outside our front doors! We're doing our best to keep them safe and healthy! Stay tuned for the progress of our new buddies!" The area was cordoned off with caution tape and a warning sign ("Turtles in Progress! Please Do Not Disturb."). 

She's here for a while. The turtle eggs may take six to 12 weeks to hatch. Staff member Alexis Wagner told WABI: "People are pretty excited, I know all my coworkers are excited about it, we're excited for them to hatch and we get to see them, and hopefully we're going to help them make their way back towards the pond back there so they don't go out towards the road."

BAM is ready, noting: "We're pretty pumped to help keep these babies safe!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Neil deGrasse Tyson on Real Time with Bill Maher

The View: Senator Joni Ernst, author of Daughter of the Heartland: My Ode to the Country That Raised Me (Threshold Editions, $16.99, 9781982144876).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Neil deGrasse Tyson, co-author of Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going (National Geographic Society, $30, 9781426221774).

This Weekend on Book TV: John Grisham

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, June 12
1:30 p.m. Barry Meier, author of Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies (Harper, $28.99, 9780062950680), at the Montclair Public Library in Montclair, N.J.

5 p.m. Chuck Robb, author of In the Arena: A Memoir of Love, War, and Politics (University of Virginia Press, $34.95, 9780813946108).

7 p.m. Carol Leonnig, author of Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service (Random House, $30, 9780399589010).

8 p.m. Sebastian Junger, author of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781982153410), at Parnassus Bookstore in Nashville, Tenn.

9 p.m. John Grisham, author of many legal thrillers, discusses wrongful convictions and his work with the Innocence Project.

10 p.m. Bill Bratton, co-author of The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America (Penguin Press, $30, 9780525558194). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, June 13
2 p.m. Nina Burleigh, author of Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America's Response to the Pandemic (Seven Stories Press, $25.95, 9781644211809). (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m.)

6 p.m. Deborah Westphal, author of Convergence: Technology, Business, and the Human-Centric Future (The Unnamed Press, $24.99, 9781951213244).

6:55 p.m. Christopher Elias, author of Gossip Men: J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Politics of Insinuation (University of Chicago Press, $35, 9780226624822).

8 p.m. Russell Poldrack, author of Hard to Break: Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 9780691194325).

10 p.m. Elizabeth Hinton, author of America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s (Liveright, $29.95, 9781631498909). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

10:55 p.m. Steven Koonin, author of Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters (BenBella Books, $24.95, 9781950665792).

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter Winner; Wolfson History Winner

Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, filmmaker and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga won the PEN Pinter Prize, which is awarded annually to "a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, the Commonwealth or former Commonwealth, who, in the words of Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an 'unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world and shows a 'fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.' "

The prize will be shared with an International Writer of Courage, "a writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty." The co-winner, selected by Dangarembga from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN, will be announced at a ceremony hosted by British Library and English PEN on October 11, where Dangarembga will also deliver her keynote address 

"I believe that the positive reception of literary works like mine helps to prove that we can unite around that which is positively human," she said.

Prize judge Claire Armitstead said Dangarembga "has had an unusual and exemplary career as a writer, filmmaker and activist, who has made things happen for other people as well as achieving in her own right. Through her trilogy of novels, starting with Nervous Conditions in 1988 and culminating 30 years later in her fine, Booker shortlisted This Mournable Body, she has charted the development of Zimbabwe from a British colony to an autocratic and troubled free state. In doing so, she has held a magnifying glass up to the struggles of ordinary people, in so many parts of the world, to lead good lives in the increasingly corrupt and fractured new world order. Hers is a voice we all need to hear and heed."

Judge Ellah P. Wakatama added that Dangarembga's "work through her books, activism and films demonstrates diligence, stoicism, and the ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval. It is an honor to join my colleagues in raising up the voice of a woman whose words have written the story of my country of birth with a clarity, bravery and honesty that is a rare and precious gift."

Judge Andrew McMillan commented: "When Nervous Conditions was published in 1988, it was the first novel to be published in English by a black woman from Zimbabwe; here's to our bookshelves, our syllabuses and our collective imaginations being full of many more, from current and future generations, in the years to come."


Sudhir Hazareesingh has won the £40,000 (about $56,442) Wolfson History Prize, which recognizes a work of historical nonfiction that "combines excellence in research and writing, with readability for a general audience," for Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture.

David Cannadine, chair of the prize's judging panel, said Black Spartacus "vividly recreates the extraordinary career of the leader and hero of the Haitian Revolution, which reverberated far beyond that island and far beyond the Caribbean. This is an erudite and elegant biography with a message that resonates strongly in our own time, and we extend our warmest congratulations to Sudhir Hazareesingh."

"Completing this book made me realize more acutely than ever how much the writing of history is a collective effort, resting on the accumulated wisdom from current and previous generations," said Hazareesingh, "and I would like to dedicate this award to the Haitian people, and to all the scholars who have helped give the Saint-Domingue revolution, this landmark event in the fight for emancipation and dignity, the prominence it deserves.”

Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: "Never have the aims of the Prize been more necessary than in these days of challenge and uncertainty. Sudhir Hazareesingh's remarkable book is a sparkling example of the role history can play in society today and, in particular, the importance of shining a light on the often-overlooked experiences of the past."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 15:

Last Comes the Raven: And Other Stories by Italo Calvino, trans. by Ann Goldstein (Mariner, $15.99, 9780544146709) is a short story collection available in English for the first time.

The Sweetness of Water: A Novel by Nathan Harris (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316461276) follows two freedmen brothers in Georgia during the end of the Civil War.

How to Survive America by D.L. Hughley and Doug Moe (Custom House, $27.99, 9780063072756) is a survival guide for minorities living in the United States.

A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Streets to the Stars by Hakeem Oluseyi with Joshua Horwitz (Ballantine, $28, 9781984819093) is a memoir by the astrophysicist who had an impoverished childhood and crime-filled adolescence.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books, $27.99, 9781250304452) is psychological suspense about a Cambridge professor suspected of murder.

She Memes Well: Essays by Quinta Brunson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9781328638984) collects humorous essays by a comedian.

Brainscapes: The Warped, Wondrous Maps Written in Your Brain--And How They Guide You by Rebecca Schwarzlose (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328949967) charts new understandings of how our brains map the world.

Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 and the 90 Days That Changed Sports and Culture Forever by L. Jon Wertheim (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9781328637246) explores an especially eventful season across multiple sports.

CenterStage: My Most Fascinating Interviews--from A-Rod to Jay-Z by Michael Kay (Scribner, $28, 9781982152031) collects interviews from a sports and entertainment broadcaster.

Steve Kerr: A Life by Scott Howard-Cooper (Morrow, $28.99, 9780063001275) is the biography of a basketball player and coach.

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Knopf, $17.99, 9780525582120) is a first-day-of-school picture book about a girl who simply wants to fit in.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson (HarperCollins/Tegen, $18.99, 9780063032606) is a stand-alone follow-up to Truly Devious that features a teen sleuth.

Shutter by Melissa Larsen (Berkley, $17, 9780593101391).

Plot Twist by Bethany Turner (Thomas Nelson, $16.99, 9780785244486).

The Brittanys: A Novel by Brittany Ackerman (Vintage, $16, 9780593311738).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Music of Bees: A Novel by Eileen Garvin (Dutton, $26, 9780593183922). "Comparing this book to Eleanor Oliphant left me a bit skeptical, but the comparison is fair and I'd even say that The Music of Bees stands on its own beautifully. Add in some interesting facts on bees and heartwarming stories of lovable, offbeat characters and you have a winner." --Pat Rudebusch, Orinda Books, Orinda, Calif.

Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica's Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton (Crown, $30, 9781984824332). "What I love about polar expedition stories is imagining surviving the same situation. Madhouse at the End of the Earth is a fascinating study of chasing fame at any cost and the price paid when things go horribly wrong. A worthy addition to the canon of polar expedition history." --Tom Beans, Dudley's Bookshop Café, Bend, Ore.

The Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99, 9781728234229). "Two women, each with a good reason for wanting to escape her current life, switch plane tickets and identities. When one flight crashes, the action begins. This is a unique thriller that draws you in and has you turning the pages until the unexpected but perfect ending." --Terry Gilman, Creating Conversations, Redondo Beach, Calif.

For Ages 6 to 10
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used–to–Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley, illus. by Tara Audibert (Heartdrum, $15.99, 9780063015371). "Jo Jo is the most precocious and hilarious seven-year-old I've ever read about. This story had me laughing out loud as Jo Jo tries to make backup friends in case it turns out her best school friend, Fern, doesn't want to be best friends with her anymore." --Katherine Nazzaro, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

For Ages 9 to 12
Long Lost by Jacqueline West (Greenwillow, $16.99, 9780062691750). "Long Lost is a wonderfully atmospheric and spooky story, complete with a fabulous library, a mysterious book within the book, sibling rivalry, old maps, and more!" --Angela Whited, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.

For Teen Readers
Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780062994462). "Featuring feuding booksellers from rival bookstores, this novel is the perfect combination of humor and romance. Full of witty comebacks, prank wars, and enemies-to-lovers (to enemies, then back to lovers again) energy, this story is perfect for book lovers and romance fans alike!" --Ashley Musick, Linden Tree Children's Books, Los Altos, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Inside Comedy: The Soul, Wit, and Bite of Comedy and Comedians of the Last Five Decades

Inside Comedy: The Soul, Wit, and Bite of Comedy and Comedians of the Last Five Decades by David Steinberg (Knopf , $30 hardcover, 352p., 9780525520573, July 13, 2021)

Inside Comedy: The Soul, Wit, and Bite of Comedy and Comedians of the Last Five Decades is unpolished, repetitive, digressive and occasionally braggadocious. This is arguably a felicitous approach to stand-up legend David Steinberg's splendid subject: the unpredictable, ego-driven, and literally and figuratively improvisational world of comedy in the latter half of the 20th century.

Steinberg (The Book of David), who grew up in Winnipeg in the 1940s, can offer valuable generational perspective on his chosen field: "I lived through a time when stand-up comedy was a poor relation to other forms of entertainment," he writes early on in Inside Comedy. "But I think I was one of a group of people--along with Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and a few others--who pushed stand-up forward as an art form and made comedy an important part of the culture." Inside Comedy proceeds as a memoir/love letter/victory lap hybrid.

While attending the University of Chicago, Steinberg saw legendary comic Lenny Bruce perform, and it altered his destiny. Steinberg scrapped his plan to follow a religious path, although his yeshiva days would inform his comedy act. During his six years with the Chicago improv comedy group Second City, Steinberg became known for doing mock sermons that would make him a reliable comedy-club and TV fixture in the late 1960s. That these mock sermons would play a part in the 1969 cancellation of the censor-testing Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour comes across as a source of pride for Steinberg, second only to his collected 140 invitations to appear on or guest host Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

Steinberg stayed the showbiz course--he turned to directing sitcoms in the 1980s; his name is attached to everything from The Golden Girls to Curb Your Enthusiasm--and the famous funny friends he racked up along the way, among them Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Martin Mull and Wanda Sykes, are spotlighted in the book's lengthy concluding chapter. But Inside Comedy's calling card is Steinberg's historically attuned firsthand accounts, as of the rise and fall of the Smothers Brothers, Richard Pryor's notorious onstage freak-out at a Human Rights Campaign event in 1977, and the marvel that was Carson's Tonight Show. "If you are looking for any scandalous or critical anecdotes about Johnny from me," Steinberg writes, "you are not going to get them." Fortunately for readers, he is only too happy to let Bea Arthur have it. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: In this engrossing look at comedy in the latter half of the 20th century, stand-up legend David Steinberg has much to say about his peers, their art, and himself.

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