HOLLYWOOD REQUIEM

Pity poor Dan Springer. Even though he's the best ghostwriter in the business, he's still smarting from the time he was bought off by bitchy actress Gloria Farren, who changed her mind and left him with nothing but a generous consolation payment. His marriage to fabulously beautiful heiress Faith Graves (dubbed ``the Fawn'' by her old-money family) is on-again, off-again, and when he's swept off his feet by the megabucks and megacharm of fiftyish screen legend Nina Hardy, he ends up getting treated like a messenger boy by Nina, her pouty law- school daughter Christine, fatcat publisher/perennial Nina-suitor Lew Rhinelander (who may be getting it on again with the Fawn), his feuding brother Claude, and even Nina's other messenger boy, pug-ugly Sonny Corral—an awful lot to put up with for the sake of sharing her bed and the $3.4 million his agent has negotiated for Nina's book. It's a terrific book, too—everybody who gets a whiff of it says so— so you know that something's going to go wrong, and you keep waiting, waiting, while those fantastic pages pile up and Dan tells Nina how much he loves her and the Fawn walks out and the Rhinelanders circle like vultures and Christine comes on to Dan and Nina (``Please call me Jeanine'') drops hints about the identity of Christine's father. The holocaust, when the pseudonymous Freeborn (The Stark Truth, not reviewed) finally unveils it, is meant to leave Dan shattered by his vision of corruption and loss, but by then he's probably no more indignant than you. Too starstruck to be as nasty as James M. Cain (Freeborn's principal model) or Dominick Dunne, and too shallow to be much of anything else.

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-72749-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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