This biography, much discussed even before its publication, is as mammoth as Brando himself—and a compelling read. Most of the details supplied by Manso (Mailer: His Life and Times, 1985, etc.) regarding Brando's myriad peccadilloes, sexual and otherwise, are essential for a complete picture of an unusually complex and distasteful human being: self-absorbed, manipulative, a poor parent, and a user of women. (No doubt Brando will present a different picture in his autobiography, which Random House will publish this month; no advance galleys are available.) Born in 1924, Brando was the son of two ill-matched alcoholics. His mother, with whom he had an almost incestuously close relationship, was a free-thinking bohemian; his father was a pompous businessman with a penchant for shady dealing. Brando was a troubled and troublesome boy who was thrown out of several schools and never got a high school diploma (though he later became a voracious reader). When he moved to New York City to pursue the theater as a career, it was his close relationship with Stella Adler, who taught him acting, that grounded him. After receiving excellent notices in several smaller parts, his dazzling performance in A Streetcar Named Desire led him to Hollywood, where, as Manso observes, he established ``his indelible, transcendent image as a genius among actors.'' Manso is good at eliciting from Brando's colleagues a sense of his unusual working methods and startling flair for improvisation on camera. Regrettably, Brando's ambivalence about his work and his self-indulgence off camera resulted in a self-loathing that affected his acting. Until The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris, most people in the film industry were prepared to write him off as a spent bullet. Manso traces Brando's involvement in the American Indian Movement, his long-standing love affair with Tahiti, and the gruesome story of the shooting of his daughter's boyfriend by her half-brother Christian. To Manso's credit, the book is neither a hatchet job nor a bronzing. His biggest weakness is an inability to relate the actor to his times in a specific way, falling back instead on a laundry list of current events. Nevertheless, a page-turner that will fascinate even Brando's detractors—maybe especially them. (First serial rights to Vanity Fair)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1994

ISBN: 0-7868-6063-4

Page Count: 1120

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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



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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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