THE DEVIL'S CANDY

THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

Engaging, in-depth study of how Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities was transferred from megahit book to megaflop movie; by the film critic of The Wall Street Journal, novelist of White Lies (1987). With an okay from Brian de Palma, Bonfire's director, Salamon jumped on board early, when only Tom Hanks had been hired to play Sherman McCoy. She charts the movie's birth pains, financing, script revisions, casting, location-scouting in the Bronx and Manhattan, the New York shoot and the Los Angeles shoot, second unit work for backgrounds not directed by de Palma, editing, sound mixing, scoring, previews around L.A. and in Boston, reediting, advertising, premiere, and reviews. Salamon keeps a steady interest both in the artisans and the mechanics of their art without ever quite finding a voice of her own (say, like Pauline Kael's) or revealing how her presence on the scene may have affected anything. ``The devil's candy'' is a phrase from Peter Guber, the movie's original producer, which means both the actress to be cast as Sherman's mistress and the orgasm of instant success, as in E.T. or Batman. The book's embattled center is de Palma, who is rescued from his ghoulish image in suspense films, and would be the book's tragic hero were the abortive film a tragedy instead of a creative misfire from the first script and first compromise onward. Even so, this movie struck its makers as ``the definitive vehicle of dreams...the stretch limo of hopes and ambition.'' Stephen Spielberg's take on what happened is right on target: ``Brian is stepping into shoes that can be worn by other film makers. When he does that he's caught up in the machinery of the studio system.'' Like watching a World Trade Center tower topple onto Wall Street. (Eight-page b&w photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 1991

ISBN: 0-395-56996-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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