A LOW LIFE IN HIGH HEELS

THE HOLLY WOODLAWN STORY

Crime, drugs, prostitution, sexual ambiguity, and the cinema take center stage in this funny but relentlessly self-indulgent memoir by the self-proclaimed ``Venus de Warhol.'' Born Harold Ajzenberg, Woodlawn geared up for a ``roller coaster ride of life'' when he discovered he was ``a shy, skinny kid with buck teeth who happened to have a passion for tight pants, mohair sweaters, and mascara.'' Pressured by a homophobic Catholic upbringing, he ran away at age 15 from Miami to New York with hopes of becoming a ``Superstar.'' The N.Y.C. underground of the late 60's and early 70's is the perfect backdrop for Woodlawn's raucous accounts of rising to fame from the welfare rolls, doing bouts in the slammer, winning the title of ``Miss Donut of Amsterdam, New York,'' and, finally, riding ``the Warhol gravy train''—all told with mirth and untiring vulgarity. During the pandemonium, he managed to hobnob with the choicest of celebrities and ``hangers- on.'' Great stories abound, such as George Cukor's petitioning for an Oscar nomination for Woodlawn's role in Paul Morrissey's Trash (the film that won Woodlawn international recognition); and Woodlawn escorting Jim Morrison to the ``Mine Shaft,'' a once- notorious New York gay sex club. He also takes delight in sneering at such drag cohorts as Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and one-time roommate Divine. Woodlawn is most interesting when he gets serious about the craft behind being a ``star of Stage!, Screen!, And Max's Kansas City!'' Preferring a stiff martini to method acting, he developed a style that combined ugly clothes, hysterical rant, and absurd posing and that won him audiences at cabarets throughout N.Y.C. But the self-aggrandizing tone wears thin, especially when he piles on clichÇs like ``Oh, so many men, so little time'' and ``I was fit to be tied!'' An enjoyable, sometimes mind-boggling document not only of Woodlawn but of those pre-MTV days when ``the bad, beautiful and voracious New York underground'' were truly shocking. (Sixteen pages of photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-06429-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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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