What’s So Funny? A Cartoonist’s Memoir

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780358659099. $28. MEMOIR
Sipress, who has been making cartoons for the New Yorker since 1998, chronicles his life growing up in Manhattan with his father Nat, his mother Estelle, and his older sister Linda. From his very first comic, drawn at the age of five, to some of his later well-known New Yorker cartoons, it is clear that Sipress’s work has been informed by his inability to escape what he thought of as his family’s clutches. Sipress offers a variety of vivid memories throughout his book. Some are comical (such as the time he decided to throw his toys out his 12th-floor bedroom window), some tender (he recalls riding the subway with his mother when he was small), and some painful (such as the loss of loved ones). But through it all, Sipress maintains his strong sense of humor, even when facing down sadness and anxiety. He has made a career out of laughing at himself, as he says, and readers will be drawn to the mix of humor and vulnerability here.
VERDICT An intimate and engaging memoir by an artist who understands that personal thoughts and feelings often lead to remarkable ideas. Recommended.
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