Proof that truth must indeed be stranger than fiction, since tales like these, for all their brisk, sad veneer, couldn’t...



Variety editor Bart’s first foray into self-identified fiction is a cycle of stories featuring the residents and hangers-on at Hollywood’s fashionable Starlight Terrace.

“This is Hollywood . . . everything’s a little on the bogus side,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor–inspired realtor Evan Vaine, née Vajna, inventor and promoter of Starlight Terrace. And indeed nothing could be more bogus than the screenwriting talents of Sidney Garman, the former golden child who’s fronting for a surprising collaborator, or the Botox-inhibited facial expressions of Denise Turley, whose 52-year-old face has lost more than its lines in her latest desperate bid for a role. Todd Plover, coming out to the production company he serves as co-president, is greeted by sympathy as shallow as it is widespread; Tom Patch, the heartthrob who’s trying to bury his dread approach to the big Four-O by flirting with still another flight attendant, is ludicrously insincere; a son of Middle America gets a trendy ethnic makeover only to be rejected as “too ethnic”; and every drink scalawag agent Justin Braun shares with his ex-partner only sinks him deeper into trouble. Occasionally, Bart touches deeper chords, as with the conflicted censor determined to take an indiscreet shot out of an indie film that moved her or the two adopted teens who share more than a sex life and a congenital medical problem. For the most part, though, he hugs the surface so resolutely that the stories’ main hook is their teasing intimation of real-world models from Kevin Costner to Lew Wasserman. Only “Hard Bargain,” in which a producer’s theft of a down-and-out film doctor’s lover conceals a twist dangerous to all hands, stands on its own as a successful story.

Proof that truth must indeed be stranger than fiction, since tales like these, for all their brisk, sad veneer, couldn’t stand on their own for a minute without the tabloid promise of real-life prototypes.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2003

ISBN: 1-4013-5190-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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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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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