Schell's reality check will surely spoil lots of sincere, if vapid, dreams out there, but if Hollywood is indeed the dream...

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VIRTUAL TIBET

SEARCHING FOR SHANGRI-LA FROM THE HIMALAYAS TO HOLLYWOOD

Schell (Mandate of Heaven, 1994, etc.) explores ``the depths of our collectively imagined Western version of Tibet as it seemed on the brink of reemerging in popular culture'' through the mythmaking of overheated reports sent home from travelers and in the technicolor fantasies of Hollywood.

Schell concentrates on the two vehicles that he believes have delivered a virtual Tibet to our modern consciousness. One is made up of the narratives written by visitors to the rooftop of the world (``a corpus of romantic transferences''); the other is Hollywood's confection as served forth in such films as Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet. Schell's historical overview, not surprisingly, is terrific: a lightfooted, sentient presentation of material from first colonial and missionary contact to Alexandra DavidNeel and the adventures of Heinrich Harrer. Each produced descriptions that spun an illusion of paradise built on a yearning for the poise, dignity, and spirituality that Tibet supposedly counterposed to the travails of modern Western life. This is the Tibet of Lost Horizon and ShangriLa. Hollywood's version, as experienced by Schell primarily through his attendance on the set of Seven Years in Tibet, reeks of glamour, tawdry sensationalism, and narcissism. By his own admission, Schell is sucker-punched by the glitter machine: at one point he is as eagerly awaiting Brad Pitt to be ``revealed'' to him as the Dalai Lama was revealed to Tibetan commoners way back when. Schell fortunately keeps on his feet long enough to explain just how little celluloid and the real Tibet have in common.

Schell's reality check will surely spoil lots of sincere, if vapid, dreams out there, but if Hollywood is indeed the dream merchant (as Schell acknowledges even by his own starcrossed lights), that can't be all bad, or bad at all.

Pub Date: May 17, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-4381-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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