Weekly Words About New Books in

Independent Bookstores

November 20, 2022

Steve Martin Telling Stories about His Movie Career in a Fresh and Funny Visual Presentation

Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions by Steve Martin, illustrated by Harry Bliss. The first half of this volume is a witty graphic memoir that focuses on comedian Steve Martin's 40-year movie career, with stories from his most popular films and with artwork by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. He shares anecdotes from the movie sets, along with tales of antics, moments of inspiration, and exploits with the likes of Paul McCartney, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, and Chevy Chase. What's unique here is that Martin's recollections are presented as a series of comic strips, drawn with remarkable realism by the talented Bliss. You'll have no trouble recognizing The Three Amigos, John Candy, Michael Caine, and others. And Martin's remembrances are great fun, beginning with the meaning of the book's title. It's no wonder that Booklist called Number One Is Walking a “clever and original way to approach a memoir, and it’s delightfully executed. A Hollywood memoir unlike any other.”

But wait, there's more. The second half of the book features cartoons created by Martin and Bliss, and it's a marvelously funny collection - I'm sure you can guess why I chose this example. Cartooning, which Martin has called "comedy's last frontier," was the medium for a prior collaboration with Bliss in 2020, A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection. What his new work confirms here is that Martin has found a new outlet for his fertile comedic mind - and that Bliss is the perfect partner. Number One Is Walking is a great gift idea, not only for admirers of this wild and crazy guy, but for movie and comedy fans as well.

New Spotlight on an Essential Founding Father

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff. Best known by many as a brand of beer, Adams was actually an essential Founding Father who is well deserving of further attention. And Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Schiff gives him his due. This revelatory biography chronicles Adams’ transformation from aimless son of a well-off family to tireless, eloquent radical who mobilized the colonies and led an astonishing campaign of civil resistance that culminated in the American Revolution. He was an open critic of British colonial policy, using newspapers to make his case for open resistance, particularly taxation without representation. From the Stamp Act Crisis to the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party, Adams was a leading pot stirrer, and for a time became the most wanted man in America.

In her review of the book, NPR's Maureen Corrigan wrote, "A superb new biography of Samuel Adams...Adams was...a patriot — maybe the most crucial patriot. The Revolutionary is not merely a dutiful exhumation of a poorly remembered Founding Father, it's a thrilling, timely account of how the American Revolution happened; how the colonists were radicalized and came to think of themselves not as Bostonians or Virginians, but as 'Americans.' The Revolutionary is informed on every page by scholarship, but Schiff, as Adams himself did, knows how to hold an audience.”

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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I'm a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, CA.

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