Well-considered, engaging behind-the-scenes look at both the movie and TV industries.

DEATH OF A MOVIE STAR

A tawdry Hollywood game show is ground zero for celebrities to seek revenge against one another in Patrick’s (Tea Cups & Tiger Claws, 2014) darkly humorous novel.

The name says it all: StarBash thrives on ridiculing its thespian contestants. Audiences love it, and ratings couldn’t be better. But while participants are typically unemployed actors and has-beens fighting for the prize of a $10 million movie deal, no one knows why popular actor Cassandra Moreaux would sign on for its fourth season. Cass, however, has a personal reason: It’s the only way she can score a meeting with 87-year-old actor Lenora Danmore. Lenora initially launched StarBash to fund her interactive movie museum, convincing her reluctant manager, Micah Bailey, to act as the game show’s host. But Cass is more interested in an event 70 years in the past. She’s certain Lenora got her actor mother blacklisted as a communist. Though proof of this could blemish Lenora’s celluloid legacy, she doesn’t want Cass going anywhere. She’s planning to stoke ratings even further with contestant Brandi Bonacore, an actor who blames Cass for her own stalled career. Their inevitable feud becomes the latest season’s driving force as participants fall by the wayside. Around the same time, Cass learns that Micah is more than the Hollywood-loathing host he appears to be. She holds tight to her vendetta against Lenora while also becoming Brandi’s target for revenge. Regardless of how things unfold, Lenora may have a scheme of her own to counter any potential evidence Cass possesses. Patrick’s story is not an outright condemnation of Hollywood. For one, very little is known about additional contestants, including what presumed missteps have led them to StarBash. Likewise, much of the derision comes from Micah (as host), who even mocks penny-pinching guest Elmer and his tips on how to save money. The narrative’s true focus is the presumed artificiality of Hollywood’s denizens. Behind all that glamour, in other words, are genuine and struggling people. This is comically epitomized by glitzy New York Plaza Hotel as the fourth season’s setting. The cast actually lives in cramped trailers, films on California soundstages, and travels in vans with the crew to locations. Characters like Micah aren’t as insubstantial as they initially seem; he has such distaste for his hosting duties that he resists pressure from Lenora to hang on for seasons five and six. Furthermore, he and Cass unexpectedly bond by sharing their love of films. Cass loves the classics, while Micah prefers documentaries. The TV show’s concept is formulaic, but the cast continually evolves. Brandi’s contempt for Cass, for example, isn’t completely unfounded. The novel sometimes waxes profound, even when steeped in cynicism: “Almost anyone can be selfless, if they have enough time to think about it and to arrange the circumstances so that the unpleasant act will cause as little discomfort as possible.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, this particular notion correlates with one character’s truly selfless deed.

Well-considered, engaging behind-the-scenes look at both the movie and TV industries.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9893544-5-5

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Country Scribbler Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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