Next book



An improbably resonant tale of warped creativity and friendship.

Funny, engaging first-person account of the making of The Room (2003), “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.”

French-American actor Sestero collaborates with acclaimed author Bissell (Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, 2012, etc.), producing a deft, energetic narrative as concerned with the romantic American obsession with celebrity as with his trying involvement with The Room and its notorious producer/director/writer/star, Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau dominates his bewildering, unintentionally hilarious film, so Sestero’s focus on trying to understand his friend’s baffling background and motivations gives the story of their relationship surprising depth, even though Wiseau comes off as creepy, self-centered and socially inept (though often bighearted and generous toward the youthful Sestero, possibly his only friend). The narrative follows two strands, one beginning with their 1998 meeting in an acting class where Wiseau presented “beautifully, chaotically wrong performances,” and the other covering The Room’s production, for which Sestero served as both line producer and (at the last minute) as a replacement actor in a key role. Fans of the film will be pleased to learn that making it was an equally punishing and surreal experience, as the manipulative, confusing Wiseau’s relations with the cast were “disastrously intemperate.” Yet, Wiseau spent so much of his own money that a major Hollywood equipment supplier felt compelled to aid him through the production, even as crew members routinely quit in dismay. Sestero now seems mystified by his willingness to spend time on “Tommy’s Planet,” having wrongly assumed that Wiseau’s vanity project would never reach completion. However, he argues that for all Wiseau’s flaws, their friendship provided his abashed younger self with needed inspiration: “He was simply magically uninhibited.” Sestero critiques the movie as Tommy’s “dream life in line with what he thought an American would want.” This may explain why his objectively terrible film nonetheless struck a chord, although the narrative does not explore its cult afterlife, ending abruptly at the film’s premiere.

An improbably resonant tale of warped creativity and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6119-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview