Entertainment & Sports Book Reviews (page 294)

ON THE REAL SIDE by Mel Watkins
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

"A careful balance of example and commentary—as filled with the voices and laughter of black humor as with the pain, injustice, indignities, and exclusion that gave rise to it."
In this timely, encyclopedic, personable history of African- American humor, Watkins (journalist, editor New York Times) offers in his rich examples and unpretentious analysis a history of a culture through its entertainment and, in a wider context, an explanation of the functions of laughter among minorities. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

"Tightly knit, wide-ranging, and well researched — with Gibson's own experience as a Gunsite Ranch trainee recounted: a profoundly troubling assessment of America at risk."
Powerful, deadly trends now present in US society are traced to a loss of male self-esteem and national pride following our defeat in Vietnam — in this fluid, captivating analysis from Gibson (Sociology/California State University; The Perfect War, 1986). Read full book review >

HARDBALL by Daniel Coyle
Released: Jan. 26, 1994

"The crack of the bat heard over the sound of gunfire: a testament to the innocent courage of children, as well as to their ability to endure in spite of all, including the adults. (Film rights sold to Paramount)"
An eye-opening chronicle of the fears, frustrations, and small triumphs of playing and coaching Little League baseball amid the squalor and violence of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project; by an editor at Outside magazine. Read full book review >
MASSENET by Demar Irvine
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

All critical cavil (a surfeit of detail, less than elegant writing, etc.) is swept away by the fact that this book addresses a pressing and long-standing need: a full, well-researched, carefully structured biography—in English—of one of the most underrated, unfairly patronized composers of the past 150 years. Read full book review >
IMAGES by Ingmar Bergman
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

"All told, stronger than his autobiography, The Magic Lantern (1988). (More than 200 b&w photographs)"
Warmly appealing, indispensable review of all his films by Swedish filmmaker Bergman as he sits down to look at each one, many of which he's not seen for 30 or 40 years. Read full book review >

Released: Jan. 1, 1994

"Not as thrilling as a Bird-McHale-Parish charge to the basket, but good enough for those who never saw—or who want to recapture—the real thing. (Eight pages of b&w photographs—not seen)"
Bill, Hillary, and Al? Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 31, 1993

"However Jeffords may stretch in some interpretations of individual films, she gives welcome new definition to the whole idea of the body politic. (Forty-two b&w photographs)"
Something new on the storied relation between Hollywood models and American culture in the Reagan years: an impressively documented, though frequently strained, argument that films like Rambo and Robocop rehearsed the same images of masculinity manufactured for the personal benefit of the era's leading politicians. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 17, 1993

"As a brief history of the evolution of Hollywood cartoons, though, this could hardly be improved. (B&w illustrations)"
An aggressively didactic history of the animated cartoon from the days before Mickey Mouse to the rise (or fall, depending on your feelings about the Flintstones) of Hanna-Barbera's 137 TV programs. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 15, 1993

"A cake you eat for its raisins. (Twenty b&w photographs)"
A history of the Hollywood factory system that leaps, handy- dandy, between the intimate and the commonplace, drawing from hundreds of interviews with Tinseltown folk conducted by the Southern Methodist University Oral History Program, which Davis (Hollywood Beauty, 1991) founded. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 9, 1993

More than any other event, WW II transformed the relationship between Hollywood and American culture, Doherty (American Studies/Brandeis) announces at the outset of this uncommonly wide-ranging social history—and proceeds to support his argument with surprising success. Read full book review >
ASCENSION by Eric Nisenson
Released: Dec. 3, 1993

"Coltrane'' than any other musician—but, unfortunately, he, too, generates more hot air than light."
An adulatory account of the musical achievements of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1993

"A well-documented case (though padded with TV plots and dialogue, as well as with surveys) that the TV marketplace transmits not children's culture but that of toy companies."
Big business proves the villain in Kline's informed discussion of how TV-marketing experts have manipulated children's views of culture. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
September 1, 2015

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the New York Timesbestselling author of The Language of Flowers; her new novel, We Never Asked for Wings, is about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds. For 14 years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now 15, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. “Diffenbaugh’s latest confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers,” our reviewer writes. View video >