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Helpful Votes: 9




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Kevin Cannon RSS Feed (Minneapolis, MN)
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Kmart Shoes
Kmart Shoes
by Lance Ward
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.32
24 used & new from $4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Auto-bio comix in its rawest form, October 1, 2012
This review is from: Kmart Shoes (Paperback)
"Kmart Shoes" is an incredible, harrowing read. Ward has gone to Hell and back and lives to tell the tale, much to our benefit and--although it seems inappropriate to say--much to our enjoyment. Ward's art and words combine beautifully to produce a succinct and raw account of the author's childhood; no detail is left out, yet at the same time no gruesome detail is lingered on too long for dramatic effect. Some writers lay out their stories like bar conversations, full of tangential anecdotes and showy one-upmanship; but Ward, instead, is seated in the dark confines of a confessional, laying out the sins of his past and the case for his existence one gray-toned panel at a time. If by the end you are not humbled by this story, please check your pulse.


The Cigar Maker
The Cigar Maker
by Mark McGinty
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.05
37 used & new from $1.12

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put it Down, June 23, 2010
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This review is from: The Cigar Maker (Paperback)
The Cigar Maker is a feast of a novel, a sweeping portrait of Salvador and Olympia Ortiz, who find themselves struggling with the growing pains of both their uprooted family as well as the new American city they call home.

The book opens with an unlikely romance between Salvador, a Cuban bandito, and Olympia, the daughter of a wealthy Spanish plantation owner -- an explosive love that McGinty cleverly mirrors with the explosion of the USS Maine and the resulting Spanish American war. From the wild jungles of Cuba the reader is catapulted to the wild streets of Ybor City, Florida, where every member of the Ortiz family quickly becomes enmeshed in the thriving cigar industry. McGinty introduces a wealth of characters, including Armando, the corporate bully who builds his empire with the help of corrupt cops and rigged bolito games, and Mendez, the lector whose fiery rhetoric helps paralyze the entire city.

McGinty does an expert job of rolling pulpy adventure sequences -- a bloody fist-fight in an alley, an escape from a Central American jungle -- with enough historical background to make you think you've just stepped out of a seminar on turn-of-the-century labor relations. But the meat of the education is about the cigars themselves. And to McGinty's credit the narrative never stops pushing forward toward its climactic and extremely satisfying end. The lessons about how cigars are made -- and how the industry affects the lives of its workers -- are woven seamlessly into the story, and left me with a great appreciation of cigars and, of course, cigar makers.

For transparency's sake I should note that I was hired to draw two maps for The Cigar Maker, so it's possible that I'm a bit biased. But as someone who is an impatient reader, and who has a habit of reading only a few chapters of a book before moving on to the next one, I can honestly say that I couldn't put this one down.

Highly recommended.


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