Frothy and honest remembrances for gossipy movie fans.

I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES

MEMORIES OF HOLLYWOOD'S LEGENDARY ACTRESSES

A popular actor’s “love letter to actresses.”

Wagner (You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age, 2014, etc.), now 86, returns with another installment of his life in the movies, this time focusing on the Hollywood ladies, many of whom he knew quite well thanks to a long career. If he didn’t work with them, he knew them socially or personally. His knowledge of Hollywood film history is prodigious. Don’t expect any bad-mouthing or dirt; “this is a book about character and craft, talent and genius, respect and love.” Mostly. Wagner admits to having a “brief, ships-in-the-night fling” with Joan Crawford, who had an “infectious personality and a huge drive.” Actresses, writes the author, “have it harder” than actors, and they also have shorter careers—“for every Meryl Streep there are ten Demi Moores and Meg Ryans, women who earned major salaries and major parts for precisely as long as they were the Hot Young Girl.” The actress cavalcade breezes by chronologically. Wagner starts in the 1930s and ends in the ’80s, with short chapters on two wives: Natalie Wood (“complicated”) and Jill St. John (a “good actress”). The author is succinct and pithy at giving a sense/opinion of who they were as people and what their strengths were as actresses. Gloria Swanson was “incisive,” “industrious” and “imperious.” Neither Jean Harlow nor Mae West was “particularly beautiful,” but both “made sex safe for the middle class.” Although Bette Davis was a “small woman,” she came into the “movie frame with a rush.” Marilyn Monroe was a “sweet, nervous girl” who became a “legend.” Some readers might find Wagner sexist and old-fashioned. Looks matter to him. Harlow had a “spectacular body” she liked to display; Jean Peters was “breathtaking;” Lana Turner had a “body that men would go to war over;” Brigitte Bardot was the “hottest thing on two legs.”

Frothy and honest remembrances for gossipy movie fans.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42911-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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