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review 2019-02-04 00:39
Ghetto Klown (Graphic Memoir) by John Leguizamo
Ghetto Klown - John Leguizamo,Shamus Beyale,Christa Cassano

In Ghetto Klown, celebrated performer John Leguizamo lays bare his early years in blue-collar Queens, his salvation through acting and writing, and his colorful career trajectory. He brings us onto the sets of his films opposite stars such as Al Pacino and Patrick Swayze and with directors such as Baz Luhrmann and Brian De Palma, while also opening up about his offstage life in love and marriage. In this candid graphic novel memoir, Leguizamo offers a strong message of moving beyond self-doubt—and beyond the doubters—to claim some happiness. Originally staged on Broadway in 2011, Ghetto Klown won Leguizamo Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards before being adapted into an HBO special. Now, teaming up with artists Christa Cassano and Shamus Beyale, Leguizamo shares his life story in this vibrant, funny, and moving adaptation.






John Leguizamo offers up a celebrity memoir using the graphic novel format. Here he lays out where much of the inspiration for four separate one-man shows came from, starting with the first, Mambo Mouth, all the way up to the award winning Ghetto Klown. This book is a graphic novel adaptation of the stage work. If you haven't seen the show, if you watch the trailer on YT after reading this book you instantly see the book's text is virtually verbatim from the stage show. 


Leguizamo shows you it's been a serious journey to get where he is now. Growing up in a disruptive home, he goes through some troubled kid years before being directed by a teacher to the home of an acting coach he nicknames "Tweety".





After working with him a bit and introducing him to the works of classic playwrights, Tweety connects John with Lee Strasburg, the legendary acting coach and mentor to James Dean, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino (just to name a few). From there, he is on his way! Before long, Leguizamo starts diving into the movie roles we know him for today. There's also discussion of his time bringing the Latin sketch show House of Buggin' to television, though the series was short lived and later replaced by another sketch show, MadTV. Through it all, Leguizamo is battling the disappointment of his parents. His father had kicked him out of the house for pursuing acting and the relationship remained fractured from then on. But he eventually finds peace with his costume designer love, "Teeny" (his now wife, Justine Maurer).



There's quite a bit of profanity and nudity within the illustrations, so this one's maybe not for the younger graphic novel readers. However, the inclusion of it does serve the purpose of setting up the kinds of environments Leguizamo has existed in throughout his life and career, and how such environments affected his work and personality. That said, this was not all that amazing for me. I haven't seen any of his stage shows (except for YT clips), but judging from this book... there's something that rings a little forced about the comedy style. Much of this book felt carried by the great black & white style artwork.






Also, Leguizamo comes of a little douche-y to me here. He talks about banging all the hot girls in his acting classes "and one really grateful chubby girl". By the time the story got to his experiences filming To Wong Foo, I couldn't help but cheer a bit reading about Patrick Swayze going a little Roadhouse on Leguizamo's cocky self behind the camera. Still, part of me did feel bad for the kind of dad Leguizamo got stuck with and how that must have affected his driving need for acceptance throughout his career and personal life. But as a whole, I found this to be kind of a boring read. 

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review 2016-11-05 23:13
[Rezension] Gernot Gricksch - Ghetto Bitch
Ghetto Bitch - Gernot Gricksch
Hochglanz-Girl im Hochhaus-Schick: Die 15-jährige Nele wohnt mit ihrer Familie im schicken Hamburg-Poppenbüttel und führt ein unbeschwertes Leben. Doch plötzlich nimmt ihr Leben eine gravierende Wendung: Neles Vater stirbt und hinterlässt Berge von Schulden! Neles Mutter ist gezwungen, mit ihr und ihrem 14-jährigen Bruder das Villenviertel gegen eine Hochhaussiedlung in Hamburg-Steilshoop einzutauschen. Schnell ist Nele hier die arrogante Zicke vom Dienst und lässt kein Fettnäpfchen aus. Als jedoch der 17-jährige Skater Rick auftaucht, gelingt es Nele immer besser, sich in ihr neues Umfeld zu integrieren.
"Ghetto Bitch" stammt von Wortwitz-Genie Gernot Gricksch, der auch schon Drehbuchautor von "Tatort Münster" und "Das Leben ist nichts für Feiglinge" war.
Gebundene Ausgabe: 320 Seiten
Verlag: Dressler (9. Mai 2016)
Sprache: Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3791500066
ISBN-13: 978-3791500065
Vom Hersteller empfohlenes Alter: 14 - 17 Jahre
Größe: 14,1 x 3,2 x 21,1 cm
Eigene Meinung:
Nele hat eigentlich alles, was sie in ihrem Leben haben will - einen Freund, eine intakte Familie, Geld und Ansehen, aber das alles verändert sich über Nacht als Neles Vater Selbstmord begeht und so die Familie im Stich lässt. Neles Familie ist nicht nur in dem Moment geschockt, sondern es zerstört auch den schönen Schein der Neles Welt bis dahin aufrecht erhalten hat, den durch den Tod des Vaters kommen die gesamten Schulden ans Licht und für Nele und ihre Familie beginnt der Abstieg von Hamburg-Poppelbüttel in das Armenviertel Hamburg-Steilshoop...
Neles Bruder Timo kommt aber mit der Welt aus Glanz und Glamour nie so wirklich klar, weil er gemobbt wird und ist deswegen eher froh über die Veränderungen, die nun anstehen.
Nele und auch ihr Bruder Timo kommen nicht so wirklich mit der neuen Situation klar, die neue Umgebung, neue Schule, neue Freunde - genau das wird für sie zu einem grossen Problem, das sich auch leider nicht so einfach klären lässt...
Gernot Gricksch schafft mit Nele eine Protagonistin, die in die Generation von Teenager der heutigen Zeit passt und eben das erlebt, was kein Teenager erleben will, sie erlebt einen gesellschaftlichen Abstieg, der so Knall auf Fall kommt und dann einfach erstmal mit einer neuen Situation konfiniert wird, die zunächt nicht einfach erscheint, erst mit der Zeit findet sie auch in Steilshoop Anerkennung...
Die Handlung an sich ist gut aufgebaut und auch die Umgebung schafft Gricksch recht gut, aber leider ist die Handlung etwas vorhersehbar, weil es immer wieder etwas das Entdecken der Wendungen vorweg nimmt, aber darüber kann man hinweglesen.
Gernot Gricksch hat einen sehr ehrlichen und lebensnahen Stil ein Buch geschaffen, was in die Zeit passt, wird dabei aber nicht oberlehrerhaft oder belehrend, er zeigt nur die sehr realitätsnah wie das Leben sein kann und was es für Unterschiede zwischen einer Stadt herrschen können. Er schafft es aber mit der lockere Art zu Schreiben, den Leser ab der 1. Zeile mitzunehmen und immer wieder zu zeigen, dass ein Abstieg immer nur dann einer ist, wenn man ihn wirklich als solchen begreift.

Ghetto Bitch lässt für den Leser zwei verschiedene Welten aufeinander prallen - das Luxusleben in Hamburg-Poppelbüttel und das Leben in der arme Stadtgegend Hamburg-Steilshoop. Nele, die wir im Buch kennenlernen, ist ein Charakter, der in die Zeit passt und eben auch etwas vorhersehbar ist, was aber der Geschichte nicht die Sogwirkung raubt.
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review 2016-10-13 02:25
MILKWEED by Jerry Spinelli
Milkweed - Jerry Spinelli

MILKWEED By Jerry Spinelli

208 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2003)

ISBN:  0439682363 (ISBN13: 9780439682367) 


  Set in Warsaw, Poland from prior to World War II and following an orphan with many names in his quest to survive not only living in the streets, but, also, in the Warsaw Ghetto. Author Jerry Spinelli wrote this as a young adult book, and definitely gives the young adult reader something to think about and to learn. I found it very well written. When given the name Misha by an older orphan helping take care of him, he started to believe his "story"of where he came from. Milkweed is his story of survival of the streets, the Ghetto, and the Holocaust; this is also his search to belong. I loved the characters that Misha interacted with throughout the story. Spinnelli kept the story moving. He didn't shy away from some of the horrors that Misha had to deal with, but wrote about the longing to belong, to be someone, understanding, and becoming family. I definitely would recommend this book to others, both the YA readers and adult readers.


One of my favorite things-I found this on one of those Free Little Bookshelves in the apartment complex that I baby sit at. Really cool.



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review 2016-10-01 15:17
This is history, through a glass darkly.
Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto - Tilar Mazzeo

Thanks to Net Galley and to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for offering me a free ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I had not heard the story of Irena Sendler before I read this volume, and it is one of the great untold stories of War World II, unfortunately not the only one. In the last chapter of the book (before the copious acknowledgements and notes) the author speculates about the possible reasons for that neglect, including how tough life was for those who had supported the Polish Resistance in the years after the war, under Soviet control, and also personal difficulties and even change in religious feelings. By the time Irena Sendler wrote her memoirs she was in her nineties and it must have been impossible to recall all the details of what had happened at such a cruel time, fraught with risk and physical and mental hardship. I could not help but wonder if the fact that she was a woman also had a bearing on it. Heroism is expected in men, for whom it is OK to put duty or fighting for one’s ideals before family and heart matters, but when it comes to women, the general discourse looks at them in a suspicious manner if they put ethics, politics or ideals before their role as homemakers and their families. Sendler also always said that the task of saving the children was a team effort and insisted on giving credit where credit was due, and collective events always make for a story less easy to sell and less straightforward to tell. I learned a lot, not only about Irena Sendler and her collaborators, but also about what Poland went through in the war, the resistance movement in Warsaw and Poland, and the strength of individuals set on helping others, no matter how big the odds against them. Although there were betrayals and terrible things (not only on the German camp) taking place, there are also incredible feats of bravery and generosity. It is easier to fully comprehend what certain events might have meant for the population when one has a human being (be it an invented character in historical fiction or a real person in non-fictional accounts) to follow and empathise with. In this book, we follow not only Sendler but also the experiences and fates of many of her friends and collaborators, and also of some of the children who were rescued by the whole team. The book is detailed and follows a chronological order (apart from a short Prologue set at a particular dramatic moment for the protagonist), building up from the early times before the German occupation, providing us enough information about Irena to understand where her ideas came from, and showing clearly how quickly things deteriorated, at first for Jews only, but eventually for everybody. It is not an easy book to read, not because of the writing, but because of the content. Some of the images the book creates: of the effects of the epidemic illnesses, of the contrasts inside the ghetto between the glamorous cabarets where champagne flew a few streets from where others were dying, mothers throwing their children over the wall to try to save them or the Jewish family who sent a gold crucifix and a baptism gown for their baby when they were informed he’d have to be converted to Catholicism to save him, I will not forget. There were blackmailers, and unknown kind strangers, people who would not join in the cause but helped given a chance. This is not a story of battles and big armies (although they are there too, in the background), but of individual and small guerrilla resistance, of the everyday battle and of the people who would help, because of their beliefs and ethics or for money. Perhaps the best-laid plans fail because they never take into account the individuality of the cog in the machine and how they can subvert everything, both for good and for bad. I recommend this book to anybody interested in this historical period but perhaps not as familiar with the history of what happened in Poland as with events in other places. It is also a great read for anybody interested in inspiring stories of human endurance, resistance, bravery and fighting against all odds. Although the book is not a memoir of Irena Sendler’s life, and only makes a passing reference to what happened to her after the war, it centres on her and her role in saving the lives of over 2500 Jewish Polish children. Sendler is not presented as a heroine with no weaknesses and the book tries to show her doubts and internal struggles when trying to decide what to do, worrying about her mother and her lover, Adam, but sometimes putting herself and others at untold risks without thinking about it. It tries to remain close to the documentation, data and witness accounts, although I recommend reading the author’s note before reading the book itself, as that explains the process of creation of the book and how the different materials are incorporated into the final narration, including the use of italics to indicate material the author has written and added to make up the missing parts. In one of the reviews I saw they mentioned pictures, but I got an ARC e-copy with no photographs on it, so I can’t comment on them. There are very extensive notes of the sources at the end that will be useful to people wanting to explore further the materials and a cast of characters that will be useful to keep track of the many characters (especially as some of them had to change identities and names). I also noticed that there is a version for Young Adults that is worth exploring. In sum, an important work to bring attention to a figure and a movement that deserves to be better known and remembered. A must read.

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review 2015-11-14 21:34
Ghetto Roulette
Ghetto Roulette: Playing with a Broken Heart - Dale Ridley

Title: Ghetto Roulette: Playing With A Broken Heart
Author: Dale Ridley
Publisher: True Glory Publication
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"Ghetto Roulette" by Dale Ridley

My Thoughts....

This novel ..a urban fiction suspenseful story was one moving read that will keep you turning the pages till the end. From the characters Sasha, Jeana, Mercury, Marissa and all the other main and secondary ones with all of there different traits and personalities. All I can say is that this author really knows how to deliver to the reader a read that will be very detailed with a little bit of it all...not to leave out the sexual scenes and one fast moving story. Hopefully Jasmine and Asia will be safe with all they have to go through. Now, I know you are probably asking who they are...well, to find out you must pick up 'Ghetto Roulette' to see just what all has gone on and what Jasmine and Asia has to do with this story. Be ready with the twist and turns that will keep your interest in the read as it flows so well with the title 'Ghetto Roulette.' All I can say to get a real understanding of this novel the reader will have to pick up this good read to see what all will be going on in this read and in the end beware you will be left with a cliff hanger...and you will have to pick up this author next series to get the continuation of this story in 'Ghetto Roulette 2.'

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