Danielle's dirty linen. A lot of this unauthorized biography is about legal wrangling, much of it to do with child custody. It's a good story, but Steel could have told it better. Bane and Benet, People magazine staff reporters, follow up on their Steel exposÇ of 1992 (written with Paula Chin) with this book cobbled together from interviews, court depositions, and letters Steel wrote to her second husband, Danny Zugelder (most while he was in prison). Heaven knows Steel's life is more than the stuff of romance. She was a neglected child. When she was hospitalized with ovarian cancer at 16, her parents never visited her. She married two convicts: Zugelder, a car thief and bank robber, who was also jailed for assault and rape (they were married in a prison ceremony and consummated their relationship in a bathroom); and Bill Toth, a heroin addict imprisoned for fencing stolen goods. Toth and Steel fought over custody of their son, Nicholas, and much of the last half of the bio comes from trial depositions and interviews with Toth and his lawyers. Steel finally found her putative Prince Charming in John Traina, who the authors take pains to point out is not and has never been a shipping magnate, though he does have a dynamite collection of cigarette cases and closets full of designer clothes. With their nine children, Steel and Traina bought the enormous Spreckels mansion in San Francisco. They also own a mini- compound in the Napa Valley, where they house a fleet of cars and a staff of thousands. For the sins of success, eccentricity, and a strong sense of privacy, the authors try to build a case against Steel. But in the end she comes through as a hard worker and a gritty survivor. It's you-can-run-but-you-can't-hide journalism, gossipy with a sound foundation, and not too high on elegant turns of phrase. (First printing of 100,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-11257-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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