La Streisand, warts and all, in this unusually thorough and perceptive biography. Streisand presents something of a paradoxical challenge for biographers. Even detractors cannot overlook the sheer range and magnitude of her talent, the powerful, perfectly modulated voice, her abilities as an actress and a director. But even admirers cannot ignore her egotism, her control mania, her self-righteous stance as a perpetual victim. Given these difficulties, veteran celebrity biographer Edwards (A Remarkable Woman: A Biography of Katharine Hepburn, 1985, etc.) walks the tightrope of fairness with remarkable ease and grace. Streisand once summed up the double standard by which she felt she has been judged by noting, ``A man is commanding—a woman demanding. . . . A man is a perfectionist—a woman's a pain in the ass.'' Sexism in Hollywood is still a problem, but as Edwards makes clear, much of Streisand's controversial behavior has stemmed not so much from her experiences in show business as from her miserable childhood. Her father died when she was very young; her mother never provided the love and uncritical support she craved; she did not possess conventional good looks. Yet these miseries also fueled her ambition. As she once remarked: ``I wanted to prove to the world that they shouldn't make fun of me.'' Edwards traces Streisand's long, determined climb to stardom, describing in detail her career on Broadway, her albums, her work in Hollywood. She argues persuasively that Streisand's fear of failing, the insecurity that stretches back to her childhood, has been the dominant element in her life: ``Nothing was ever enough. She had to prove herself over and over and over again.'' There are times, though, when Edwards skims over events, such as Streisand's break-up with longtime lover Jon Peters, to dwell on their psychological meanings, to little effect. Nonetheless, this is clearly the best account of Barbra Streisand in all her contradictory, difficult glory. (b&w photos, not seen) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: April 30, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-21138-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?