INFAMOUS

Last spring, Dutton acquired the US rights to Collins's British bestseller Too Damned Famous, here renamed Infamous—a perfectly publishable Hollywood glamour-soap, neither wonderful nor horrible, though having its moments (`` `Do it,' said Katherine's inner voice. `Do it, you fool. You've tracked him down all the way to Vegas-what the hell do you want? Have you made a fool of yourself just for a shtup?' ''). Teasing readers with the possibility of a roman Ö clef, Collins (Love & Desire & Hate, 1990, etc.) makes her heroine a TV superstar, one Katherine Bennet of The Skeffingtons, a successful prime-time soap about a ``dysfunctional family'' of southern California winemakers. Called Kitty by her friends and the ``Georgia poison peach'' by an adoring public, Katherine is the actress all America loves to loathe. But in Collins's version (reversing the actual casting on her own real-life, long-running show, Dynasty), Kitty is an American, though the parts of the other two major Skeffs are played by Brits: an older man with ego and toupee problems, and a blond costar (who isn't, naturally, Linda Evans), a nasty, silicone-enhanced former child star who's carrying on a secret mud-slinging publicity campaign against Kitty. Slogging through 14-hour days on the set, eating endless meals of tunafish and rice cakes to stay thin, Kitty negotiates her trials and tribulations with the help of her cellular phone and a huge personal staff: agent, manager, publicist, secretary, maid, maid's husband, etc. Nightly, meanwhile, she bemoans the fact that, though famous, she's also loveless. So Katherine is easy pickings for the sexy sociopath she chooses to marry. How she eludes this homicidal husband (while wearing an 18th-century costume) as he pursues her through the predawn streets of Venice is a camp climax worthy of the Collins oeuvre, onscreen and off. By turns tedious and silly, with some interesting background on what happens behind the scenes of a TV series. (Literary Guild selection)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-94129-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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