Jam-packed with many funny, goofy footnotes, this passionately written biography will do much to bring Patrick the...

THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON

HOLLYWOOD MONSTERS AND THE LOST LEGACY OF MILICENT PATRICK

An idiosyncratic, much-needed biography of “a woman before her time.”

Screenwriter and genre film producer O’Meara’s first book is an engaging chronicle of Milicent Patrick (1915-1998), a woman trailblazer in the film industry, as well as the personal story of O’Meara’s own, not always pleasant, experiences in the industry. As the enthusiastic author writes, in 2018, Patrick is “still the only woman to have designed an iconic movie monster.” Yet “she’s not just the queen of monsters, the goddam Joan of Arc.” O’Meara set out on a nearly three-year journey to piece together the life of this largely unrecognized artist. Mildred Elisabeth Fulvia Rossi was born in El Paso, Texas. When she was 6, her father, Camille, was hired to be the on-site superintendent of construction for the William Randolph Hearst estate, and Patrick spent 10 wonderful years as “Alice in Wonderland.” Years later, she changed her name in honor of Hearst’s wife, Millicent (Patrick left out the second “l”). In 1935, she began her study of illustration and drawing at the Chouinard Art Institute. In 1938, “her work caught the eye of Walt Disney,” and she joined his studio, working on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Dumbo. Patrick did some bit acting and modeling before getting a big break in 1952, when she was the first woman hired by Bud Westmore for his famous special effects makeup department at the male-dominated Universal Studios. After designing monsters for some science-fiction movies, she took on her most famous design, Gill-Man, for the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon, “still one of the best designed and recognizable movie monsters in Hollywood history.” She never received any on-screen credit, and a highly successful tour she did promoting the film got her fired by a jealous Westmore.

Jam-packed with many funny, goofy footnotes, this passionately written biography will do much to bring Patrick the recognition she deserves.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-93780-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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