LEAVING A DOLL'S HOUSE

A MEMOIR

In her exquisite 1982 mini-memoir, Limelight and After, Bloom recalled her legendary collaboration with Chaplin—and, by telling just a little, enhanced her image as the most gently elegant of stars. Now the ``English Rose'' (who has never hidden her Jewishness) more or less Tells All, in an absorbing but saddening autobiography that stresses her humiliations in love. The story up to 1951 is much as it was in the earlier book: strained childhood (a WW II sojourn with unpleasant US relatives, desertion by father Eddie); teenage theater success; the instant celebrity of Limelight. Next: the Old Vic and first love with married costar Richard Burton—a five-year secret affair with a bittersweet end . . . and a short, sour reprise years later, when Burton was also dallying with Susan Strasberg. (Bloom cheerfully snipes at Liz Taylor, for whom Burton did leave his wife.) The Richard III film brought a loveless mini-affair with dazzling Laurence Olivier; magnetic Yul Brynner briefly added Bloom to his Hollywood ``harem,'' leaving her ``relatively unwounded.'' Husband #1, Rod Steiger, was Method-obsessed, often depressed, and wanted Bloom home in L.A., not pursuing her stage career. Husband #2, Hillard Elkins, was into drugs and kinky sex—but showcased Bloom in classy productions of Ibsen and Streetcar. Anthony Quinn, nasty as a director, was Bloom's only one-night stand. And the book's last 100 pages focus on her 18 years with brilliant, erratic Philip Roth: his selfish demands, which damaged Bloom's relationship with her daughter; his ruthless fictional use of personal material; his illnesses, Halcion-induced breakdown, sadistic infidelities, and rejections. With an iffy fade-out and much unexplored psychological territory, this literate, dispiriting memoir doesn't quite work as a tale of hard-won emotional independence. But it's dense with rewards for theater/film buffs and sure to be grabbed up by anyone interested in the reality behind all those self-portraits in Roth's tricky fiction.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-09980-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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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