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SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM

A pleasant read that espouses the merits of dedication and gives thoughtful advice to burgeoning editors.

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Former video editor Zappia’s debut memoir gives readers a look behind the scenes of some of America’s iconic TV shows.

Born to Italian immigrants, Zappia worked his way up from TV repairman to CBS engineer to one of the most sought-after television editors of his time. During his career, Zappia worked on such classic TV programs as Hee Haw, All in the Family, MacGyver and Who’s the Boss?, among others. Along the way, he picked up two Emmys and doubled his salary with each new job, but he never lost his humility or his desire to learn and refine his craft. For example, after he won his first Emmy Award for Hee Haw, he moved down to an assistant editor position when the show was canceled: “Always be willing to learn by going back and doing beginner jobs. You might learn something new or remind yourself of something you may have forgotten.” On the subject of learning new systems, he writes, “Once again I’ll remind you that it is very important that you learn the tools of your craftyou can edit with confidence and concentrate on the creative side of editing.” Along the way, he also presents a brief history of the evolution of video editing, from film reels to digital devices. Zappia’s asides and simple writing style may be off-putting at first, but they quickly become endearing and occasionally inspiring. However, he includes relatively few stories about his family, which makes their rare appearances feel disjointed; at one point, for example, he mentions that his son became a TV writer, without ever previously mentioning that his son had an interest in writing. However, he also includes original letters and photographs from his editing life that add a personal touch.

A pleasant read that espouses the merits of dedication and gives thoughtful advice to burgeoning editors.

Pub Date: July 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482604009

Page Count: 184

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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NIGHT

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

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

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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