The seemingly lightweight premise of an anthology built around celebrity crushes yields an outstanding selection of poignant...

CRUSH

WRITERS REFLECT ON LOVE, LONGING AND THE POWER OF THEIR FIRST CELEBRITY CRUSH

A few dozen writers recall their childhood infatuations with celebrated media stars or iconic characters (literary or animated) and how these crushes influenced their future lives.

Editors Alter (Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over, 2008, etc.) and Singleton (Behind Every Great Woman is a Fabulous Gay Man, 2005, etc.) make a few lofty claims about celebrity influences in the introduction, but they are surprisingly well played out in these sharply observed pieces: “Celebrity crushes change and mold us into the people we will become,” they write, “shaping our ideals, fueling our fantasies, aiding and abetting our conquests, and leading us to (or away from) the people we meet and fall in love with decades later.” Though boasting big-name contributors such as James Franco and mega-selling authors Stephen King and Jodi Picoult (both deliver impressive pieces), the more memorable stories come from lesser-known talents. Among the standouts is “My Own Private Danny Zuko,” in which Yesha Callahan recalls her budding romance as a black teen with a visiting white neighbor, a young John Travolta–like double, which led to an anguished confrontation with racism. Larry Doyle tells of his obsession with Mary Tyler Moore as the Laura Petrie character from the Dick Van Dyke Show, and David Shields writes about Barbara Feldon’s Agent 99 in Get Smart—each are stylish and hilarious inclusions. Caroline Kepnes grudgingly revisits an awkward letter-writing correspondence with 90210 actor Brian Austin Green, and Richard McCann’s fascination with Bette Davis and her influence on his emerging gay awareness provides the basis for a marvelous multilayered story that begs to be expanded into a full-length memoir. Loosely organized into eight chapters, the collection also includes pieces from Joanna Rakoff, Roxane Gay, Shulem Deen, and Shane Harris.

The seemingly lightweight premise of an anthology built around celebrity crushes yields an outstanding selection of poignant and thought-provoking stories.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239955-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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