Leisurely and ramblingly informative rather than gripping, then: a grand, funny tinsel-town cornucopia bursting with...

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MOVING PICTURES

MEMORIES OF A HOLLYWOOD PRINCE

Father was optimistic B. P. Schulberg—philanderer, compulsive gambler, publicist (he dubbed Pickford "America's Sweetheart"), scenarist, lieutenant to "Uncle Adolph" Zukor, founder of Preferred Pictures, manager of Paramount, discoverer of Clara Bow, archenemy of L. B. Mayer. Mother was suspicious, pessimistic Ada, devotee of self-improvement, Jewish-intellectual style (later Hollywood's proto-typical woman-agent). And so little Buddy—born 1914—was indeed a Hollywood prince, with the Studio as "composite father." He and chum Maurice Rapf (son of a rival studio chief) played on the Ben Hur set; they cut up by flinging rotten figs at Norma Shearer et al. Buddy was fawned over by the stars, especially B.P.'s doxy Clara Bow—poor "Crisis-a-Day Clara," Brooklyn-accented and desperately seductive, even with a ten-year-old ("Mmmmmm. How wouldja like ta drive up to Arrowhead this weekend, Buddy? Just the two of uz!"). Buddy sat in on story conferences, had a summer job in the publicity department, got an "advanced course" in psychopathology: the miserable kiddie stars, the pathologically insecure biggies, the epic thick-headedness of such endearing egomaniacs as now-forgotten George Bancroft. (Schulberg delights in resurrecting the lesser-knowns.) But: "If I had a silver spoon in my mouth, I was gagging on it." How so? Well, Buddy was a terrible stammerer—unhelped by Ada's Freudian theories or voice coaches; he also, with Maurice, "built fear of the opposite sex into a cult." And while Ada pushed Buddy to achieve, B.P. treated his tries at writing exactly the same as the work of $1000-a-day Ben Hecht ("Lousy!" was the usual one-word critique). But, above all, there was the endless B.P./Ada bickering—peaking when Buddy was 17, when B.P. was carrying on with Sylvia Sidney; Ada screamed ("She's nothing but a little hoot. Cheap little kike!"); Oedipally feverish Buddy, sent east to prep school, dreamed of assassinating homewrecker Sylvia. . . and even made one melodramatic appearance at the Sidney place. A great story of domestic nightmare and adolescent fury? Yes indeed. But Schulberg has chosen not to shape or dwell on it, Haywire-fashion. Instead, drawing on B.P.'s unpublished memoirs as well as his own memories, he cheerfully surrounds the personal drama here with a broad range of Hollywood history and anecdotes.

Leisurely and ramblingly informative rather than gripping, then: a grand, funny tinsel-town cornucopia bursting with first-hand, second-hand, and third-hand tales.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1981

ISBN: 9781566635264

Page Count: 548

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2013

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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