The romance between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham, as earnestly rendered by her novelist son (Rich Kids, 1992, etc.). In July of 1937, when 40-year-old Fitzgerald headed for his third stint in Hollywood, his novels were for the most part out of print, he was nearly $40,000 in debt, and his wife, Zelda, was institutionalized. Still, he was not drinking; he was filled with determination. At a party of Robert Benchley's, he spotted Sheilah Graham, a former chorus girl from London's East End who was working as a gossip columnist for a newspaper syndicate. She and Fitzgerald started an affair; she was initially nervous because he asked detailed questions about her childhood, and she'd invented aristocratic relatives and falsely described herself as a bored society girl who'd been slumming in the theater. But she finally spilled the truth, describing the poverty that had driven her mother to have her committed to an orphanage and the sexual maneuverings that had accompanied her life onstage. He was tender, drawn by her vulnerability and curious about her character (she became the model for the heroine of The Last Tycoon). Their romance was punctuated by his occasional, cataclysmic tumbles off the wagon. He steered her to great books; she tried to control his drinking. Periodically they would break up; always they would reconcile. He died at her home in December 1940. Despite Westbrook's family ties, it's Grahamthe sex-charged, self-invented womanwho remains two-dimensional. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, mesmerizes as he self-destructs, compelling his lover with his fragility and generosity and trumpeting his pain and frustration via bludgeoning cruelty and extravagant gin binges. What lingers, though, is not the unsynchronized dance of the lovers' mutual demons, but the portraitfamiliar but poignant nonethelessof Hollywood running roughshod over literary talent, and of the grim ravages of alcoholism. (photos, not seen.) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-018343-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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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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