A delightful appreciation of the archetypal movie star who defined screen sophistication. In a pleasing mix of life story and film analysis, a seasoned biographer and teacher (Cambridge Univ.) meditates on the idea of Cary Grant and the actual person. With compassion, he recalls Grant's (nÇ Archie Leach) hard life in working-class Bristol and troubled relationships with his parents. Music halls and American theater helped Leach hone his craft, but not until he had been in Hollywood for years and made The Awful Truth (1937) did he gain the confidence to become a star. Director Leo McCarey's interest in improvisation and his ability to help Grant ``think more carefully about what . . . he was trying to do in front of a camera'' were key. A string of Grant hits followed, all capitalizing on his ability to embody urbane egalitarianism. Hitchcock caught his dark side and elusiveness in Suspicion (1941) and later in Notorious, To Catch a Thief, and North by Northwest. After his 1966 retirement, he excelled in business, became a first-time father, and was bitterly divorced from his fourth wife, actress Dyan Cannon. A quiet life and a happy fifth marriage lasted until his death in 1986. Throughout, McCann refers comfortably to the arsenal of Grant literature, notably reprising Stanley Cavell's use of Emerson to capture Grant—``fit to stand the gaze of millions.'' One source of disagreement is the bisexuality claim in Charles Higham and Roy Moseley's bio: McCann debunks it in point-by-point blows. Finally, despite any unbecoming marital conduct and early embrace of LSD, McCann believes Grant remains an exemplary movie star because he behaved in public and toward his audience with decorum. Neat, well researched, and witty, the book earns respect for the author and a familiar wry smile at its reincarnation of Cary Grant. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 1997

ISBN: 0-231-10884-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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