Abramowitz's strength as a writer emerges in her ability to let her subjects speak candidly and openly about their...

IS THAT A GUN IN YOUR POCKET?

WOMEN'S EXPERIENCE OF POWER IN HOLLYWOOD

From countless interviews with Hollywood's female elite, Abramowitz compiles a mesmerizing account of the sometimes-ugly confluence of sex, power, and celebrity amid the tarnish of Tinseltown.

Beginning and ending with the death of studio chief Dawn Steel, Abramowitz (Premiere magazine) describes a Hollywood landscape lush with money and power, as well as the rampant sexism that still hinders any woman who wants to grab a piece of the action. Despite the obstacles, many women succeed in these predatory waters, and their stories simultaneously shock and inspire. Abramowitz gives us the full range of Hollywood, from Barbra Streisand's eventual triumph in filming Yentl to Jodie Foster's trauma as the assassination-inspiring wunderkind of Taxi Driver. Sex, of course, is never in short supply, from the affair between Cybill Shepherd and Peter Bogdanovich on the set of The Last Picture Show to the rumors that have long dogged studio head Sherry Lansing that she slept her way to the top. Celebrity may sell in Hollywood, but one of the strengths of Abramowitz's exposé is that she gives us the stories of the women behind the scenes as well. We see, for example, Callie Khouri's creation of Thelma and Louise and Carrie Fisher's odyssey from actress to script doctor, as well as snapshots from the long careers of such Hollywood mainstays as writer Nora Ephron, agent Sue Mengers, and director Elaine May. These topics provide only a brief sampling of Abramowitz's tales: the beauty of the book lies in its encyclopedic ability to address almost every notable woman in Hollywood over the last 30 years.

Abramowitz's strength as a writer emerges in her ability to let her subjects speak candidly and openly about their experiences and passions; the resulting collection celebrates Hollywood's irrepressible ability to entertain while plumbing the dark reaches of its soul.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-679-43754-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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