New Books Tuesday: Amy Poehler and Robert De Niro

Tuesday brings the release of new books in the form of a memoir by comedian Amy Poehler and a biography of acting legend Robert De Niro.

Amy Poehler is one of the hilarious comedians working today and it shows in her first book, Yes Please (Dey Street Books). Poehler wonderfully blends memoir, essays, advice, confessional, and manifesto into a hilarious account of her years on the planet.

From growing up in Massachusetts to her days learning from Charna and Del at iO and touring with the Second City to the Upright Citzens Brigade and working on SNL and Parks and Recreation, Poehler shares her observations on love, parenthood, marriage, sex, career, family, friendship, and the future. Her keys to the universe come in the form of two works: YES PLEASE.

Poehler’s talent on screen translates quite well to paper with warmth, tenderness, self-awareness, wisdom, intelligence, and that trademark off-balance charm. It wasn’t easy–as is always the case with anyone who writes a book. She gets her mother, Seth Meyers, and Michael Schur to cameo.

With having starred for many years on SNL, Poehler shares many behind-the-scenes stories–including how Mad Men star Jon Hamm comforted her on the day her OB-GYN died.

Comedy fans need to get this charming collection. Your comedy collection won’t be complete without it. If the book isn’t to your liking, try out the audio CD instead.

De Niro: A Life (Crown Archetype) is from film critic Shawn Levy, not to be confused with the director of the same name.

Levy draws on interviews with nearly fifty insiders and exclusive access to De Niro’s extensive archives to bring us the most ambitious biography yet of the acting legend.

We know De Niro for his work in films such as Mean Streets, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull. Intensely private, his public appearances are rare and marked by inarticulateness and palpable awkwardness–far from what people see when they watch him in his iconic roles on the silver screen.

Levy pens a biography that is elegant and compelling. He charts the evolution of an actor who used to take on roles that hid the nature of a real life to the point of taking on roles that provide no challenge at all. De Niro went all of 21 years between Oscar nominations (Cape Fear, 1992; Silver Linings Playbook, 2013).

We see a nuanced look at De Niro’s methods and how they have influenced a new generation of actors on both the big and small screen.

Even though it’s a biography, it reads as if it were a novel starring a character whose turmoil takes him to new heights as an artist. Levy shows us De Niro the husband, father, and philanthropist and the De Niro who invested in Tribeca and turned it into a high-profile community.

With content, context, and color, we get the portrait of a man that we should have known about a long time ago. No other author has had the access to the documents like Levy.