Good-hearted but lightweight autobiography by the composer of A Chorus Line and many film scores, including The Way We Were. Like Orson Welles, workaholic Hamlisch hit it big while very young, garnering three Oscars at age 28 for 1973's The Way We Were and The Sting, and composing Broadway's longest-running musical ever—but then he found himself floundering on a treadmill with every step a misstep. Hamlisch tells his story with a light hand, much like his own background music, without ever really digging into the nitty-gritty of film-scoring or even of writing musicals. The author covers his work scoring Woody Allen's first two films (Take the Money and Run and Bananas) in less than a page, simply by Hamlisch describing Allen as being uncommunicative. The focus remains always on the author, his music, his ulcers. At six, Hamlisch showed such promise as a pianist that his Viennese- immigrant parents enrolled him in Juilliard. Hamlisch forever was drawn to lyrical fluff while his father insisted that he learn the basics. While still in his teens, the budding musician worked as a Broadway rehearsal pianist, his biggest thrill being with Barbra Streisand and Funny Girl when they opened in Boston and later on Broadway, and then as a musical coordinator for TV's The Bell Telephone Hour. Then came calls to score Sam Spiegel's The Swimmer, to arrange the music for an Ann-Margret Vegas show, and to boost aged Groucho Marx's spirits as his accompanist for his farewell comeback. Writing A Chorus Line and then Hamlisch's subsequent failures (Jean, about the life of Jean Seberg, etc.) are covered thinly here. Pleasant but synthetic, with not enough struggle in the writing. (Two eight-page photo inserts—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 1992

ISBN: 0-684-19327-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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