FLAVOR OF THE MONTH

In The First Wives Club (1992), Goldsmith was like a dog with a bone on the subject of rotten husbands; in her second novel, she's latched onto another theme that's almost as meaty: Hollywood, which she masticates with characteristic wicked glee. This twisted tale is about three women who become megastars- -thanks to a TV show featuring a trio of dolls adventuring through the Sixties on motorcycles. They are: gorgeous, smart, and talented Jahne Moore, who used to be chunky, ugly Mary Jane Moran before she hired a surgeon to take the scalpel to her; Sharleen Smith, who flees a Texas trailer park after her brother kills her abusive father; and Lila Kyle, daughter of a Joan Crawford-like star who grows up to be as vicious as her mommie dearest. The three are like spitting cats during production, and when Jahne lands a movie Lila wanted, things get worse, with Lila hiring a p.i. to get the dirt on her costars. Meanwhile, Jahne has reclaimed the guy who dumped her back in her Broadway gypsy days; but when he learns about her surgery scars, he turns her big film debut into a porn show by hiring a double to do a graphic sex scene that Jahne knows nothing about until she sees the final cut. And poor Sharleen isn't happy in L.A.—particularly when her long-lost mother shows up permanently hitched to a bottle of booze. The dirt on Jahne and Sharleen hits the rags eventually, and it looks as if Lila will walk away the winner—until she gets snagged in a sordid secret of her own. Goldsmith runs amok in Hollywood—and bores for about two hundred pages in the middle—but at the close, she pulls out all the stops, redeeming herself in a wild, over-the-top way. On Hollywood, Thomas Tryon is more touching, and Nathanael West more literate—but no one can touch Goldsmith for gusto.

Pub Date: May 31, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-79449-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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