Marshall writes that he combats stress with an “ice-cream sandwich or a Fudgsicle.” This is a Fudgsicle of a showbiz memoir.

MY HAPPY DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD

A MEMOIR

Happy days are here again, in the autobiography of a director who “always wanted to be remembered as the Norman Rockwell of television.”

As the producer, writer and/or director of Happy Days, The Odd Couple and Laverne & Shirley on TV, and the director of hit movies including Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and The Princess Diaries, Marshall seems like a nice guy for a man who has enjoyed such Hollywood success, and a loving family man (married once, now with six grandchildren) within an industry not generally known for such stability. Unfortunately, for a writer whose previous book was titled Wake Me When It’s Funny: How to Break Into Show Business and Stay There (1995) and who got his start writing jokes for comedians, he isn’t very funny. Or at least this book isn’t. Nor is it serious, mean, scandalous or particularly revelatory. It’s just nice. Marshall has gotten along fine with some difficult actors—including his sister, Penny, and the beleaguered Lindsay Lohan—and has apparently remained friends with everyone with whom he has ever worked. He rarely asserts his ego and occasionally takes less credit than he might be due. He knows that Julia Roberts did more for him than he did for her; he writes of Pretty Woman, “If a movie can change a man’s life, this would be that movie for me.” Marshall also knows that such hits couldn’t inoculate him against a series of stiffs, and he gives nearly every project (long-forgotten movies as well as recent bombs such as New Year’s Eve) equal space in its own chapter. His philosophy might best be expressed in his remarks on the generally dismissed Raising Helen: “It was never going to be the kind of picture that made big money or took home prizes, but it would turn out to make audiences smile, and I like making audiences smile.”

Marshall writes that he combats stress with an “ice-cream sandwich or a Fudgsicle.” This is a Fudgsicle of a showbiz memoir.

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-88500-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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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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