MORE HAVOC by June Havoc
Kirkus Star

MORE HAVOC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

About 20 years ago, the 1930-vaudeville-circuit story of Dainty June, Baby Louise (the future Gypsy Rose Lee), and their horrendous Momma Rose was much in the air--in Gypsy's memoirs, in Broadway's Gypsy (Ethel Merman as Momma), and in Havoc's fine Early Havoc, which took us up through her runaway career as teen queen of those nightmarish dance marathons. And now June continues the tale from 1933 to 1944--as Momma and Louise/Gypsy (on the rise as a stripper) feud and climb in flashy Manhattan. . . while loner-outcast June tries again and again to break away from the itinerant marathon-er life to a legit N.Y. career as an actress. What's more, June has to figure out about men, sex, and love--what Mother has always called ""disgust""; and, while scrambling around the country with her cash in a ""grouch bag"" pinned to her bra, June decides that she needs some roots that are all her own: a baby (definitely a girl). So she lets herself get pregnant by her sweet, hopeless, unknowing, married lover Jamie; she hugely staggers on and off buses; and finally, barely, she gives birth to baby-girl April. Only after that--and with ""surrender"" to the comforts of a classy marriage--does her career begin to pick up: a useless but lovely audition for George M. Cohan (he teaches her how to put newspapers in her wornout shoes); modeling in the garment district; straight-woman for an instructive vaudeville comic (""Don't clutter up the road with titters when I'm on my way to five-minute belly""); and at last a real theater job--all-purpose girl for the St. Louis Municipal Opera--that leads to Broadway understudying and semi-stardom (Pal Joe)', radio, and a minor movie career requiring a nose job on her ""Norwegian beak""). But this is no routine show-biz climb saga--because Momma Rose and Gypsy (and June's massively ambivalent feelings about them) are never offstage for long. Momma: running a cafeteria in her N.Y. apartment; watching dirty movies; complaining, hoarding (""there was no nutrition in my mother's company""); planning to use June's love-letters for blackmail; calling June's success ""this freak reappearance of yours""; and on her deathbed (a flashforward to 1954) cursing Gypsy, ""wishing with all my heart I could take you all the way with me--all the way down!"" Gypsy: in and out of the hospital with hypochondria; reminding ""unbright"" June again and again of the all-importance of ""M.O.N.E.Y.""; pursuing celebrity and bank accounts with cool singlemindedness. A one-of-a-kind family, a showbiz-world with all its tacky tinsel showing, a compelling (if sometimes rather impressionistically overwritten) and colorful story.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row