HAIL TO THE CHIN

FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A B MOVIE ACTOR

A breezy read through a breezy life.

The anecdotal sequel to the cult actor’s bestselling memoir.

Campbell (Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, 2005, etc.) describes this book as “part two of a three-act story,” and it often feels like a place holder, following the surprise success of If Chins Could Kill (2001) and anticipating whatever is to come. A perennially working actor in B-movies and cable series, the author explains the extended interval between his first book and this one: “like a slow-growing oak, it could take fifteen years for me to amass enough anecdotes for another autobiography.” During this time, Campbell avoided typecasting by playing both Santa Claus and a 68-year-old Elvis Presley suffering from penis cancer. He had adventures shooting movies in Bulgaria, New Zealand, and the Navajo country of New Mexico. He and his wife moved to Oregon, where he joined the Elks Lodge, whose members thought he was making fun of them when he took the pledge. “I’m an actual actor, so I’m prone to be a bit more ‘theatrical,’ ” he reassured them. Then he explains to readers, “aside from being old-fashioned and a little kitschy, the organization donates a lot of money to charity and the drinks are really cheap!” Among other discoveries, Campbell learned that Oregon culture is possibly even crazier than that in LA and that driving there is definitely more dangerous. And the secret to Hollywood? “It’s really just a big, tangled web of schmoes who keep running into each other over and over.” Fortunately, one of Campbell’s schmoes is Sam Raimi, a lifelong friend since they were kids playing with Super-8 film and later one of the highest-paid directors in the business. Through Raimi, Campbell landed bit roles in the first three Spider-Man movies. The author’s work on the Burn Notice TV series and his cult movies, including Evil Dead, have brought him a variety of fruitful opportunities, including an invitation to entertain the troops in Iraq.

A breezy read through a breezy life.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12560-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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