Come for the LA intrigue; stay for the surprising moral of the story.

HOLLYWOOD'S EVE

EVE BABITZ AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF L.A.

Hero worship meets compelling biography in Vanity Fair contributing editor Anolik’s (Dark Rooms, 2015) nonfiction debut.

A cultural fixture in Los Angeles in the 1960s and ’70s, Eve Babitz (b. 1943) eclipsed the label of groupie. She was a socialite who managed to intertwine herself with Steve Martin, Warren Zevon, Jim Morrison, Yoko Ono, and Andy Warhol, a Hollywood High graduate–turned-author whose teen years defined her writing. She was well-known but also dismissed by some, including novelist Julia Whedon: “I discern in Babitz the soul of a columnist, the flair of a caption writer, the sketchy intelligence of a woman stoned on trivia.” However, Anolik shows that Whedon was shortchanging the woman who famously posed nude over a chessboard with Marcel Duchamp (he was clothed). The author is entirely up front about her obsession with her subject. A love for Babitz’s writing turned into a deep dive to uncover the woman who pitched her first novel, Travel Broadens, in 1961 to Catch-22 author Joseph Heller with a letter that read, “Dear Joseph Heller, I am a stacked eighteen-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. I am also a writer.” As Anolik shares, the provocative message was classic Babitz: “playing the sexy, boobalicious girl.” That character certainly made a significant impression during her heyday, but it was Babitz’s style and fictive memoirs that defined her as something of a female Hunter S. Thompson, a drugged-out sex kitten with brains. Throughout the book, Anolik shares deep cuts from Babitz’s writing and influence over the major players of the era. But as with any dishy tale, there are times when the narrative gets caught in its own name-dropping cyclone and feels just as shallow as some of the stars it portrays. Fortunately, the author counters this problem with a poignant rendering of Babitz’s tragedy: a freak fire that destroyed her once-renowned beauty—but not her chutzpah.

Come for the LA intrigue; stay for the surprising moral of the story.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2579-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more