A mostly depressing assemblage.



A wearisome compilation of New Yorker profiles, written by a scion who ought to know better.

What strange curse has afflicted the New Yorker these past 30 years? What miasma wafts in its offices that transforms the work of John Lahr, son of Bert Lahr and surely an inheritor of at least a small degree of that great man’s wit, into soggy, leaden, partisan prose? Lahr seems drawn to the more unpleasant people in the arts, and the adorations in his profiles of them are inversely proportionate to their boorishness. This results in hagiographic treatments of David Mamet, Woody Allen, Roseanne, or the very talkative Arthur Miller. He quotes Miller on Willy Loman’s failure in Death of a Salesman. “It’s the most brutal way of looking at life that one can imagine, because it discards anyone who doesn’t measure up. It wants to destroy them. It’s been going on since Puritan times. That God rewards those who deserve it.” In his introduction, Lahr claims to begin work on his profiles with “about fifteen hundred pages of transcribed interviews, which form the backbone of the piece.” In the case of the Miller interview, that number is surely a gross undercount, but when it comes to one of Lahr’s few likable subjects, Bob Hope, you have to wonder if the two even exchanged postcards. Hope comes across as one of his few agreeable subjects. Perhaps that is why Lahr manages to rise a little bit from his heavy-handed style in order to deliver a trashing of a man whose only sins seem to be the hiring of joke writers (as most comedians do), self-deprecation, and an unabashed patriotism for his adopted country. (Hope was English-born.) Lahr is kinder in his profile of Irving Berlin, but he hastens to reassure us that the wholesale PC revisions of the book in the current Broadway revival of Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun “completely remove the script’s bad odor.”

A mostly depressing assemblage.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2000

ISBN: 1-58567-062-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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