Fast-moving fluff, with hours of fun for anyone determined to figure out who the bad guys really are.

CHORE WHORE

ADVENTURES OF A CELEBRITY PERSONAL ASSISTANT

Zippy tell-all follows the misadventures of Corki Brown, professional coddler to the stars.

Corki Brown has spent almost 20 years taking care of Hollywood celebrities—cooking their meals, picking up their dry cleaning, and using her garage to store their incriminating goods (gifts from an ex-boyfriend, unlicensed guns, etc.). She's thoroughly disenchanted with her career, but as a single mom with a ten-year-old son to support, she can't quit now. Our story opens on an annual ritual: purchasing memorable gifts for Steven Spielberg on behalf of her clients on the occasion of his birthday. She's also planning to cater a dinner for Academy Award–winner Lucy Bennett, and drop off the laundry of the latest conquest of aging star Jock Straupman. The author's strongest suit is in presenting these hectic, absurd mundanities of assistant work; she herself spent 20 years doing tasks that ostensibly resemble the ones her heroine faces, and her accounts of highway shortcuts and the bakshish system ring true. But for those hoping to get in on real-life, titillating scuttlebutt, the rest of her work is more obscure; although she's presumably dishing dirt on various baddies, it isn't clear exactly who’s who. Howard’s celebrity protagonists—Lucy, Jock, and others—seem to be composites; understandably, as presumably few Hollywood star would tolerate being presented as maintaining an underground arsenal or recruiting underage sex partners. (Jennifer Aniston, however, is mentioned by name as the rare celeb who treats her employees humanely.) The story gets wilder by the minute, as Corki's clients charge her with planning a last-minute wedding in Greece, and exchanging $100,000 for damning home videos; the whole is then wrapped up in an improbably neat twist, but the plot is hardly the point here.

Fast-moving fluff, with hours of fun for anyone determined to figure out who the bad guys really are.

Pub Date: April 12, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-072391-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperEntertainment

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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