Breezy glimpse into the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of modern celebrity culture and the women’s-magazine business.

LITTLE PINK SLIPS

Dedicated editor-in-chief’s brilliant career goes into a tailspin after a flamboyant celebrity takes over her magazine, a plot that mirrors the litigious saga of Rosie (i.e., O’Donnell) magazine, to which former McCall’s editor Koslow bore witness.

Magnolia Gold might have been born Maggie Goldfarb in Fargo, N.D., but years in the magazine industry have polished her into an elegant Manhattanite who welcomes every day as chief tastemaker for Lady magazine. Sure, the somewhat staid women’s title could use a redesign, and that is exactly what Magnolia has planned when the word comes down from corporate that her beloved Lady is being transformed into Bebe, after popular, opinionated talk-show host Bebe Blake. Never mind that plus-sized, foulmouthed Bebe knows nothing about magazines, her addition is assumed to be an opportunity for the company to “mint money” and Magnolia is summarily demoted to a smaller office where she is called upon to execute Bebe’s vision, even if that includes an NRA-friendly cover shot that alienates the readership. The capricious Bebe is an unprofessional nightmare who shows up drunk to her own launch party and at one point tries to seduce a young male intern, but she is also capable of big-hearted surprise gestures, such as when she “gives” British actor Hugh Grant to Magnolia for her birthday. And as difficult as Magnolia’s position is, it is her oily CEO Jock Flanagan who really gives her trouble—ultimately firing her after she rejects his adulterous advances. Our unemployed heroine is then left to ponder her future as she fights for money owed her by her former corporate overlords, while simultaneously navigating her way through the tricky waters of dating. Perched on the sidelines, she then has a perfect view of the bittersweet dissolution of Lady/Bebe, and is forced to choose between the lesser of two evils when both Jock and Bebe call on her to testify in competing lawsuits against each other. Koslow’s zippy prose ably captures the manic intensity and not-always-glamorous world of New York magazines—even if classy Magnolia and her so-so love life are a bit of a snooze. Far more intriguing is the flawed maverick Bebe.

Breezy glimpse into the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of modern celebrity culture and the women’s-magazine business.

Pub Date: April 19, 2007

ISBN: 0-399-15415-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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