WOULDN'T IT BE NICE

MY OWN STORY

An express train to hell and back with the leader of the Beach Boys. Wilson begins with his darkest days, in November 1982. Then, weighing over 340 pounds, smoking six packs of cigarettes and snorting five grams of coke a day, failing to bathe for weeks at a time, ``I stank. I was dirty...I was insane.'' How did the founder of ``America's band'' reach this bottom? According to the equally frank life-review that follows, father Murry Wilson, a would-be but talentless composer, had a lot to do with it, taking out his frustrations on his sensitive son (born in 1942) through mind- twisting beatings and ridicule. And then there were the drugs and the relentless pressure to produce hit tunes; by the late 60's, Wilson, wealthy and renowned for such songs as ``Good Vibrations'' and ``I Get Around,'' was drifting into a paranoid schizophrenia that would envelop him for 15 years. Salvation finally came in the person of Eugene Landy, an unorthodox psychologist who took Wilson by the hand in 1983 and turned his life around through a rigorous program of diet, exercise, and therapy. Wilson devotes nearly half of his text to his resurrection, and it's an inspiring story (although recent moves by the other Beach Boys to sever him from Landy—for reasons Wilson ascribes to greed and jealousy—find the self-admittedly ``brain-damaged'' author unsure about his mental future). Most readers, though, will find of even greater interest Wilson's detailing of his early encounters with the Beatles, Elvis, and other rock luminaries; of his stormy relationship with the other Beach Boys; of his now-dead brother Dennis's ties to Charlie Manson; and, in a recurrent motif that illuminates his troubled tale, of how he goes about composing his exquisite music. A bold and genuinely affecting account by a founding father of rock 'n' roll: a must for popular-music fans. (Fifty-plus b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-018313-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1991

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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