A witty, satisfying collection of American humor.



Scenarist Rudnick (I’ll Take It, 1989, etc.) presents 15 humorous pieces.

The author, a celebrated screenwriter, playwright and columnist, delivers a collection of autobiographical essays sure to please fans of David Sedaris and Jonathan Ames, though his work is not as convulsively funny as the former or scandalously titillating as the latter. Rudnick is a master of the breezy quip and projects a refreshingly modest restraint, avoiding the sometimes cloying navel-gazing common to the genre; the author’s role in his stories is more of a spectator than a central character. Rudnick writes about his family and career, dishing behind-the scenes dirt (albeit pretty mild dirt) from productions of films including Sister Act (1992), The First Wives Club (1996) and In & Out (1997). There is no mention of the disastrous remake of The Stepford Wives (2004), which is understandable but disappointing. The author’s profiles of outsize showbiz types like producer Allan Carr and mercurial British actor Nicol Williamson are vivid and droll. The concluding piece, a remembrance of his friends at the infamous Chelsea Hotel at the height of its squalid glamour, is a sweetly affecting portrait of a vanished bohemian New York City. A look back at the early days of the AIDS crisis is similarly moving. The funniest essays are excerpts from the fictional diary of one Elyot Vionnet, a fussy older gentleman whose horror over the insipidness and vulgarities of modern life repeatedly leads to comically satisfying bloodshed and chaos. Rudnick’s gift for the skewed first-person narrative will be familiar to fans of his “Libby Gelman-Waxner” columns from Premiere magazine. Vionnet is an equally rich and amusing character, and a book-length volume of his memoirs would be a treat.

A witty, satisfying collection of American humor.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-178018-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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