Short Takes

Short Takes

October 11, 2013 


Still Foolin’ ’Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

Billy Crystal, Henry Holt, 288 pages

In “Still Foolin’ ’Em” Billy Crystal ties together his reflections on aging with an engaging account of his childhood, youth and the many adventures of a 45-year career as comedian, actor and filmmaker.

“I wasn’t a strong one-liner joke writer,” he says.

Instead, Crystal the comedian would learn to hold an audience and keep them laughing by telling stories and creating characters: be they real people, such as Ali (whom Crystal often imitated with great comic effect), or made-up ones, such as Lew Goldman, an old Jewish weatherman who did the forecast on “Saturday Night Live” – but only for the block where his family lived.

Those same qualities as a storyteller serve Crystal well in “Still Foolin’ ’Em,” a book that moves from one funny, strange and heartfelt moment to the next as smoothly as the best of the nine Academy Awards shows Crystal hosted.

In the end, the reader concludes that Crystal isn’t just funny: He’s a mensch too.

Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here:

Untold Stories From the Fight Against

Muslim Fundamentalism

Karima Bennoune, W.W. Norton, 416 pages

“The struggle waged in Muslim majority societies against extremism is one of the most important – and overlooked – human rights struggles in the world,” writes Karima Bennoune, a human rights advocate and professor at the University of California-Davis School of Law.

“Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” aims to give voice to those most at risk from Islamic fundamentalism: Muslims.

From 2010 to 2012, Bennoune traveled the globe and conducted 286 interviews with “people of Muslim heritage.” She spoke with housewives, Muslim Brotherhood members, former hostages, actors, feminists and schoolchildren from 26 countries, gathering stories about their often risky pursuit of education, creative freedom and choice in the face of extremism.

Bennoune conducted her interviews in places such as Kabul, Lahore, Minneapolis, Cairo and the Gaza Strip. There were “people who prayed in the middle of the interview and others who drank wine when I met them on the prophet Muhammad’s birthday,” she writes.

Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times

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