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21. Take the Cannoli : Stories From
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22. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
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23. Quicksands: A Memoir
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24. Tales from the Bed : On Living,
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25. By Myself and Then Some
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26. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
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27. The Spiral Staircase : My Climb
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28. Memories Of A Munchkin: An Illustrated
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29. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous
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30. Silent Bob Speaks : The Collected
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31. Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art
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32. Breathing Out
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33. Truth & Beauty : A Friendship
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34. Black Boy (Perennial Classics)
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35. Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs
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36. Gift from the Sea
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37. Mistress Bradstreet : The Untold
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38. Kiss Me Like a Stranger : My Search
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39. On Writing
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40. Tori Amos:Piece by Piece

21. Take the Cannoli : Stories From the New World
by Sarah Vowell
list price: $12.00
our price: $10.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743205405
Catlog: Book (2001-04-03)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 3654
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humor. She searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an investigation of goth culture, blasts cannonballs into a hillside on a father-daughter outing, and maps her family's haunted history on a road trip down the Trail of Tears. Vowell has an irresistible voice -- caustic and sympathetic, insightful and double-edged -- that has attracted a loyal following for her magazine writing and radio monologues on This American Life. ... Read more

Reviews (64)

4-0 out of 5 stars I LOVED THIS BOOK...
...but I will caution readers that they MIGHT find it more enjoyable to hear Consigliere Sarah Vowell read them herself. That's what I discovered. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic book start to finish; my favorite This American Life essayist covers a wide and diverse variety of topics, from the Trail of Tears to growing up a gunsmith's daughter to going Goth for a day. Every essay in this book was a delectable morsel of Sarah Vowell's acid, accurate wit. This wonderful piece of insight made me laugh, made me think, and most of all, made me understand why I should leave the gun and take the cannoli. Thank you, Sarah Vowell, for continuing to grace the world of popular culture with your fresh, cutting perspective.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great, laugh-out-loud funny essays
This is my first experience with Sarah Vowell's work, having seen her on Letterman and Conan O'Brien, and I found it at a used book sale at the local library and decided to get it. I'm glad I did; this is one of the funniest collections of essays I've read in a while. Vowell's unique, almost Gen-X approach to life (though I hate to use the label "Gen-X", as that suggests someone much more mopey than Vowell really is). I'm perplexed by the reviews that cite this as being "boring" or "not funny", I suppose everyone's entitled to their opinion but I couldn't disagree more. Whether knock-down hilarious ("Take The Cannoli", "Shooting Dad", etc) or serious and well-thought historical and emotional ("What I See When I look at The Twenty-Dollar Bill", the Frank Sinatra-Hoboken essay), Vowell is excellent, and I look forward to reading more of her work. I highly recommend this to anyone who's looking for a good laugh, and hopefully I'll get a chance to hear her on NPR sometime. At any rate "Take the Cannoli" is a good primer for Vowell.

5-0 out of 5 stars Partly cloudy patriot
Read everything Sarah Vowell writes but possibly read radio on after partly cloudy patriot and take the cannoli.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fairly Decent
Take the Cannoli serves as a decent introduction to Sarah Vowell's writing, although it is not nearly as good as Partly Cloudy Patriot. The most appealing thing about her is the simple fact that one can disagree with her opinions without feeling argumentative. She has a way of presenting her opinions that does an excellent job of articulating why she feels the way she does without sounding like she is attacking any opposing opinion. Very civilized and enjoyable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Like a lively conversation at a bistro
...and speaking of a bistro, her take on the hidden meaning of your morning mocha is laugh-out-loud funny. This collection of essays deals with her historical, political, religious, and cultural experiences - and who could be more fun to wade through that with than a cynical, lyrical gen-X commentator?!

This book has a little something for everyone. Well, O.K., probably not everyone. If you're a big fan of the Left Behind series, you might not like her take on premillenial dispensationalism. If you have little appreciation for Frank Sinatra, you may need to skip a couple of the essays. It reads like a lively road-trip passenger, full of random opinions and witticisms. Having heard her recently in a live reading, I think we would be well served by an audio version of this book. ... Read more


22. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
by DAVE EGGERS
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375725784
Catlog: Book (2001-02-13)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 791
Average Customer Review: 3.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Well, this was when Bill was sighing a lot. He had decided that after our parents died he just didn't want any more fighting between what was left of us. He was twenty-four, Beth was twenty-three, I was twenty-one, Toph was eight, and all of us were so tried already, from that winter. So when something world come up, any little thing, some bill to pay or decision to make, he would just sigh, his eyes tired, his mouth in a sorry kind of smile. But Beth and I...Jesus, we were fighting with everyone, anyone, each other, with strangers at bars, anywhere -- we were angry people wanting to exact revenge. We came to California and we wanted everything, would take what was ours, anything within reach. And I decided that little Toph and I, he with his backward hat and long hair, living together in our little house in Berkeley, would be world-destroyers. We inherited each other and, we felt, a responsibility to reinvent everything, to scoff and re-create and drive fast while singing loudly and pounding the windows. It was a hopeless sort of exhilaration, a kind of arrogance born of fatalism, I guess, of the feeling that if you could lose a couple of parents in a month, then basically anything could happen, at any time -- all bullets bear your name, all cars are there to crush you, any balcony could give way; more disaster seemed only logical. And then, as in Dorothy's dream, all these people I grew up with were there, too, some of them orphans also, most but not all of us believing that what we had been given was extraordinary, that it was time to tear or break down, ruin, remake, take and devour. This was San Francisco, you know, and everyone had some dumb idea -- I mean, wicca? -- and no one there would tell you yours was doomed. Thus the public nudity, and this ridiculous magazine, and the Real World tryout, all this need, most of it disguised by sneering, but all driven by a hyper-awareness of this window, I guess, a few years when your muscles are taut, coiled up and vibrating. But what to do with the energy? I mean, when we drive, Toph and I, and we drive past people, standing on top of all these hills, part of me wants to stop the car and turn up the radio and have us all dance in formation, and part of me wants to run them all over." ... Read more

Reviews (741)

2-0 out of 5 stars unstaggered
You've got to give Dave Eggers this, if nothing else, he knows how to market himself. First he wrote this memoir, loaded with irony to appeal to Gen-Xers, continually self-referential to appeal to postmodernists, and centered around his efforts to raise his little brother after their parents both died of cancer, a sure chick magnet. Then, having exposed most of his and his family members' lives to public view (at least in theory) he adopted a Pynchonesque/Sallingeresque reclusive pose, and feigned personal agony at having to discuss the book. All this while cashing in big time on the supposedly "tragic" events of his life. For these savvy ploys alone he deserves to be called a "staggering genius."

The book itself uses a host of postmodernist, ironical, satirical, etc., etc., etc...techniques, which are rather hackneyed and, given the ostensible topic of the book (his family tragedy), quite off-putting. A fairly representative passage comes when he's heaving his mother's ashes (or cremains) into Lake Michigan :

Oh this is so plain, disgraceful, pathetic--

Or beautiful and loving and glorious! Yes, beautiful and loving and glorious!

But even if so, even if this is right and beautiful, and she is tearing up while watching, so proud--like what she said to me when I carried her, when she had the nosebleed and I carried her and she said that she was proud of me, that she did not think I could do it, that I would be able to lift her, carry her to the car, and from the car into the hospital, those words run through my head every day, have run through every day since, she did not think I could do it but of course I did it. I knew I would do it, and I know this, I know what I am doing now, that I am doing something both beautiful but gruesome because I am destroying its beauty by knowing that it might be beautiful, know that if I know I am doing something beautiful, that it's no longer beautiful. I fear that even if it is beautiful in the abstract, that my doing it knowing that it's beautiful and worse, knowing that I will very soon be documenting it, that in my pocket is a tape recorder brought for just that purpose--that all this makes this act of potential beauty somehow gruesome. I am a monster. My poor mother. She would do this without the thinking, without the thinking about thinking--

Yeah sure, I get it, the way he's having this discussion shows that he understands what's going on, yadda, yadda, yadda... But unfortunately, the point he's making is more accurate than his style is clever. There simply is something gruesome about this kind of mannered irony and the way, throughout his life, that he seems to interpret his experiences through the filter of the book he plans to write.

At the point where every thought, emotion, and action in your life must be considered for how it will appear in print, you've become a fictional character rather than a real human being. And by creating so much distance between the character of Dave Eggers and the supposedly tragic events of his life, Eggers (the author) makes it really hard for the reader to care much. I finished the book unstaggered and heart unbroken, but grudgingly forced to admit that the literary world has a potential new genius, a writer with a genius for self promotion the likes of which we've not seen since Norman Mailer; and we all know how the Norman Mailer story has gone : badly.

GRADE : C-

3-0 out of 5 stars Bitter, Sad, Self-Obessed, Humorous....but not quite genius
Frankly, I felt this was a heartbreaking work of staggering genius that sputtered and stopped just shy of greatness.

The first half of the book was brilliant. The middle was torturous. The end (being that it followed so closely after the agonizing middle) just didn't feel as captivating anymore.

I disagree, however, with the reviewer who criticized Eggers for not caring about his mother and sister. There is tenderness and profound sadness there, you just have to perceive it underneath the facade Eggers constructs.

His brutal portrayal of the death of a loved one and the complication of family relationships afterward is, perhaps, too much for some readers. I found it to be honest (probably the most honest aspect of the book).

That said, I recommend this book to those with an open mind, an appreciation for ironic humor, and a tolerance for an unconventional approach to writing. It was mad. It was refreshing. But it was just a little too unedited to live up to the title completely.

1-0 out of 5 stars Lies, Lies, Lies, and more Lies
First off, the title is a lie.

The book is boring. The narrator does not care about the deaths of his parents nor the future death of his sister, so how is it heartbreaking?

Einstein was a genius. Shakespeare was a genius. Eggers is incapable of writing a book with a plot and characters.

Then, all the blurbs are lies, as they were all written my people on the McSweeney's payroll.

And then, all the insider tax and tuition snark-fests, held by pomo hipsters on college campuses are lies.

And then, all the creative-writing workshops which assign this book, as well as postmodern english classes which place it on the suggested reading lists are lies.

The sales numbers given by the corporate conglomerates are lies, aimed at bolstering their bottom line while Eggers aims to eradicate literature by spamming the bookstores with his crap, killing trees and displacing quality literature penned by indy presses.

Then, all the positive reviews here are lies, written by Eggers himself, as the New York Times reported.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Heartwrenching Display of Staggering Hubris
There are so many other good books out there, why waste your time with this one? The title is lofty and ambitious and creates expectations for the reader that this work fails to realize (Of course, Dave, you did ask for it). No question to me that Eggers has potential to be a decent writer, but his smug (oh, but I try to be self-deprecating, and I almost mean it, too!), cooler-than-thou, "Are you in on the joke?" style gets in the way of what could have been, if not a work of staggering genius, a well-told coming-of-age story.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Self-Indulgent Work of Staggering Verbosity
Have you ever had a friend who just couldn't stop talking about him or her self? They seem to have no other concern in life but to tell you how great, magnificent and important they are. It's as if they think they're the only ones who exist, or worse yet, matter. And after reading Dave Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", I couldn't help but feel that's exactly who I had been listening to.

Alright, perhaps I'm being a bit harsh. Eggers is a very talented writer, with enough quirkiness to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool to brimming. The subject matter he attempts here is very "heartbreaking", and he manages to evoke strong emotions from his readers without becoming overtly sentimental. And in dealing with the tragic loss of two parents to cancer (in the same month), this would be easy to do. Eggers deftly keeps his memoir moving by utilizing humor, anger, and a jarring, schizophrenic leaping from story thread to story thread.

Eggers shows a clever and refreshing playfulness in his writing. Where else are you greeted with directions on how to read a book? Where else do you get the story notes "before" the story actually begins? The book is also filled with various other clever devices, such as diagrams which point out optimal areas on his kitchen's hardwood floor for sock-sliding, a chart which explains all of the symbolism in his book (for his less alert readers), and a number of formatting switches, such as to movie script format or interviews written in italics. Eggers has employed nearly every trick in the book to maintain his reader's attention.

The story, however, even as Eggers states in his "reading directions", is a bit uneven. The heart of the story, that of Eggers' coping with raising his young, orphaned eight-year-old brother, Toph, is rendered with tenderness and honesty. Simple acts such as throwing frisbee and sliding down a hardwood floor in one's socks take on a philosophic poignancy, and the remarkably realistic dialogue between the brothers is captivating.

However, true to his schizophrenic nature, Eggers is not content to merely talk of Toph. The middle of the book he fills with stories of his attempts to start up a (relatively pointless) satirical magazine, Might, and his attempt to get on MTV's even-more-pointless reality show, The Real World. These threads, while somewhat entertaining, tend to wear thin, especially when Eggers continually rants about how great and important he is. The worst part is a nearly fifty page "transcription" of his interview with the producers of The Real World to sell himself onto the show. Pages and pages of where he grew up, what his favorite food was, and why he is so gosh dang vibrant and beautiful and necessary to everyone on the planet. Energy is refreshing. But in Eggers case, it gets self-indulgent at times.

Still, there is something to be read here. The first 100 pages and the last 50 are fantastic, particularly his thoughts on his mother, and Eggers exuberance, as well as his ferocious anger, are marvelous to behold. Staggering? Yes. Masturbatory? Very. Genius? Not quite. Entertaining? You betcha'. ... Read more


23. Quicksands: A Memoir
by Sybille Bedford
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582431698
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Sales Rank: 9581
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Book Description

Beginning in 1956 with the publication of A Legacy, the highly acclaimed Sybille Bedford has narrated-in fiction and nonfiction-what has been by turns her sensuous, harrowing, altogether remarkable life. In this memoir, her first new book in over ten years, she provides the moving culmination to an epic personal story that takes readers from the Berlin of World War I, to the artists' set on the C™te d'Azur of the 1920s, through lovers, mentors, seducers, and friends, from genteel yet shabby poverty to settled comfort in London's West End. Whether evoking the simple sumptuousness of a home-cooked meal, or tracing the heartrending outline of an intimate betrayal, she offers both "a deliciously evoked return to worlds" (John Fowles), and spellbinding reflections on how history imprints itself on private lives. ... Read more


24. Tales from the Bed : On Living, Dying, and Having It All
by Jenifer Estess
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743476824
Catlog: Book (2004-05-18)
Publisher: Atria
Sales Rank: 320
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jenifer Estess is a woman on the verge: She's about to launch her own company; she's looking buff and dating vigorously; she's driving in the fast lane -- with the top down. At the age of thirty-five, Jenifer dreams of falling in love and starting a family. Then she notices muscle twitches in her legs. Walking down a city block feels exhausting. At first, doctors write off Jenifer's symptoms to stress, but she is quickly diagnosed with ALS, a fatal brain disease that is absolutely untreatable.

Max out your credit cards and see Paris, suggests one doctor. Instead of preparing to die, Jenifer gets busy. She dreams deeper, works harder, and loves endlessly. For Jenifer, being fatally ill is not about letting go. It's about holding on and reaching -- for family, friends, goals.

Jenifer's girlhood pact with her sisters Valerie and Meredith -- nothing will ever break us apart -- guides them as Jenifer faces down one of the most devastating illnesses known to humankind. That same enduring pact inspires the creation of Project A.L.S., a movement started by the sisters that changes the way science and medicine approach research for ALS and the related diseases Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and which has already raised more than $18 million. Will Project A.L.S. help scientists discover medicine in time for her?

Jenifer answers these questions and others in this beautifully written and wholly inspiring memoir that celebrates a life fuelled by memory. Tales from the Bed forces us to reconsider society's notion of "having it all," and illustrates, more than anything, the importance of endurance, hope, and, most of all, love. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars I've found a new hero (or heroes)
I have seen the HBO documentary, "Three Sisters," with which this book is associated, and also read this book. Both were amazing and powerful, yet different. I walked away from the book, looking to do something more meaningful with my life, whereas the film was more educational as far as ALS is concerned.

The book kept me up, reading all night long, in a rush to continue with Jenifer on her journey to the end. When I read the final pages, I didn't want to close the book, in fear that the connection I established with Jenifer, Valerie and Meredith would disappear. The writing flowed like a familiar memory and the humor made me smile between the tears that dropped. I feel like I've known the Estess family for my entire life, even though I was introduced to them by mere text in the pages of the book. I recommend this book highly to everyone--not just those who have ALS or know someone with ALS. After all,like Jenifer, ALS could happen to anyone of us.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful
This was such a great read that revealed a woman with a lot of class who even though she was dying inch by inch continued to live and fight for the hope of a cure for ALS. Through the writing you can feel her struggle, but her sense of humor comes through so just when you are about to cry over the inhumanity of the disease you crack a smile or even laugh out loud at something Jenifer said. The love she and her sisters had for one another and their determination to help Jenifer is awe inspiring. This book makes you forget about your troubles and makes you want to do something to find a cure for ALS. I'd recommend it for anyone who has a heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars A moving story of courage
I picked up this book on the way home from a trip for some airplane reading and could not put it down. I was somewhat familiar with Jenifer's story from seeing her and her sisters on the Today Show and other news programs when they started Project ALS. But her courageous story of life and love and what it means to be family really touched my heart - and gave me some much needed perspective in my life. I highly recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Indomitable spirit an encouragement to all
I deeply admire Jenifer's courage and indomitable spirit. Her sisters' commitment to love, care, and find a cure is also very admirable.

My husband has ALS and I am very glad I read this book. I am challenged to love others more and do my best to make a positive difference in spite of daunting odds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful summer read - inspiring and filled with love!
I just read Jenifer's wonderful memoir, TALES FROM THE BED and thought it was one of the most beautiful stories I've read in years. With all that was changing in Jenifer's life, she had her sisters and still had hope, and remained funny, heartwarming, and inspiring you can feel the love that she had for life pouring through the pages. I hope that you'll give yourself the gift of reading Jenifer's wonderful story and the legacy she left behind. ... Read more


25. By Myself and Then Some
by Lauren Bacall
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060755350
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: HarperEntertainment
Sales Rank: 5181
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The epitome of grace, independence, and wit, Lauren Bacall continues to astound generations with her audacious spirit and on-screen excellence. Together with Humphrey Bogart she produced some of the most electric scenes in movie history, and their romance on and off screen made them Hollywood's most celebrated couple.

But when Bogart died of cancer in 1957, Bacall and their children had to take everything he had taught them and grow up fast. In a time of postwar communism, Hollywood blacklisting, and revolutionary politics, she mixed with the legends: Hemingway, the Oliviers, Katharine Hepburn, Bobby Kennedy, and Gregory Peck. She was engaged to Frank Sinatra and had a turbulent second marriage to Jason Robards. But Bacall never lost sight of the strength that made her a superstar, and she never lost sight of Bogie.

Now, on the silver anniversary of its original publication, Bacall brings her inspiring memoir up to date, chronicling the events of the past twenty-five years, including her recent films and Broadway runs, and her fond memories of many close lifelong friendships. As one of the greatest actresses of all time turns eighty, By Myself and Then Some reveals the legend in her own beautiful frank words -- encapsulating a story that even Hollywood would struggle to reproduce.

... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful and Engaging Book
If you have read her first book you will probably be a bit disappointed since the present book has just 80 new pages added in a second section at the end, and there is a twenty year gap in her biography, between where the old story stops in the 70s and the addition begins in the 90s. The new part is mostly from the early 1990s through to her Oscar nomination, and then on to the Sept 11, 2001 attack and beyond to the end of 2004. It covers her more recent movies and TV appearances, and plays, including those movies with Nicole Kidman. For readers like myself - and I am a Bogart fan - and I have not read her old book, I found this to be a wonderful biography and I read it cover to cover over a two day period. The book transports the reader back to 1940s Hollywood with Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and many more.

This is a fairly detailed look at the life of Bacall, but mainly about the years to 1957 and before, the year her first husband Humphrey Bogart died. My main complaint is that the book lacks structure, andinstead the 500 page book is one continuous story broken with the occasional short sentence inserted in heavy font to designate a change in the direction of the story, and that line can occur anywhere on a page. There are no chapters nor is there an index - just one break where the new 80 pages are added. The good news here is that this update book by Bacall is a a very well written, reader friendly, and an engaging book. Once you start to read it is almost impossible to put the book down, and I read the first half or over 300 pages almost non stop - to where Bogart dies.

She starts with her early childhood in New York city; she tells us her life story through high school, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, modelling, then into small parts. She was star struck with visions of Bette Davis and others frorm a young age. The book describes a meeting bewteen the two in a New York hotel, where Bette Davis advised Bacall and her friend on how to become an actress. After some struggles, and by page 80 in this 500 page book, the ambitious Bacall makes a breakthrough when she appears on Harper's Bazaar cover in March 1943. Next she leads us through seemingly hour by hour for her first days in Hollywood at Warners, her screen test, the long wait and then her first film with Bogart, their relationship, threats from the director Hawks who had been supporting her but who opposed the Bogart relationship, Bogart's love letters, etc. They had an intense romance punctuated by Bacall making a middle of the night drive down highway 101- somewhat dramatically in the rain like a Bogart film -looking for a perhaps slightly drunk Bogart - who had phoned her in the middle of the night - and who was walking on foot with a large sunflower in his lapel - while her mother sat at home and was horrified that her daughter was going out with a three times married and 25 years older man.

The book seems to slow in tempo after Bogart's death and her affair with Sinatra - around pages 320 or so - and my only negative feeling about the book is the Sinatra section - about 20 pages long - where one is certain that she is skipping much detail. The last part of the book, the last 150 pages, leads us though her second marriage to Robarts - a mostly dismal and uninteresting period in her life - followed by the death of her mother, and then the rest of her career and awards, and her friends and family. In the last few pages she spills over with opinions about living in New york city, travelling outside the US with a US passport, and a number of other topics including her relationship and admiration of the late Katherine Hepburn.

After her second marriage failed, and her mother's death, and with "Mrs. Bogart" still being part of her core identity, Bacall was able to start a new life and made a comeback on her own in TV, movies, and live theatre. To her credit, the mature Lauren Bacall seems to have had great success in live theatre and on Broadway, and done it mostly on her own. She worked around the country in smaller theatres then in New York. She got a Tony for Applause and in a moment of poetic closure, Bette Davis, the star that Bacall had schemed to see in a hotel 30 years earlier (see above), came backstage and praised her for her performance in Applause, and told her that only she could do the part.

After her comeback she has appeared in a number of films and has reached a total of 50, but never again enjoying the same level of success and popularity as her early 4 Bogart films. But she continues to work into her seventies and is still sought for parts, especially mother roles, and came close to duplicating her old successes with a recent Oscar nomination late in her career. With her success she continues to live in New York overlooking west central park, her home town where she grew up and went to school.

All in all a great biography -5 stars.


1-0 out of 5 stars Same book, with brief epilogue
BY MYSELF--excellent, heartfelt autobiography.

UPDATE--reads something like this."The next one to die was Adios Hartley.We had enjoyed many wonderful luncheons together over the years and he was my escort to the Golden Globes in 1987.I will miss him terribly."

"Then the next one to die was Beau Bye.He was a delightful person that I got to know well on the set of Uptown Downtown.Such a raconteur!"

and on, and on, and on....

Reads almost like a Roll of the Dead Christmas Letter.

3-0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed
I har already read the first book by myself.This is a wonderful book.The rest is just not worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Loved It"
BY MYSELF AND THEN SOME by Lauren Bacall is anything but boring. What a woman!

I admire Ms. Bacall for many, many reasons, a few reasons...her savvy way of doing things...her spunk... and her own unique style.I, for one, am thrilled she chose to share some of herself with us (her many fans), in this fantastic book.

No-matter what her real age today, I think she is STILL beautiful both inside and out.

Ms. Bacall, you go girl!

(Recommended Reading!)

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved By Myself.Looking Forward to Reading This One
I have not actually read this follow-up book yet, but am looking forward to in the near future.I am currently re-reading By Myself.I read one of the reviews below, and felt I really have to answer it.Lauren Bacall is in no way ripping off or cheating her readers.Instead, what she has done is a marvelous thing.By Myself was first written 25 years ago.It is a wonderful book.Since then, a whole generation of people has grown up not knowing about this book.She has simply presented it again along with an update so those of us who weren't around the first time can enjoy it, and those of us who read the first book can enjoy it again along with a nice companion update.I just love and admire Lauren Bacall.She really is class all the way. ... Read more


26. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood
by ALEXANDRA FULLER
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375758992
Catlog: Book (2003-03-11)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 1448
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time. ... Read more

Reviews (106)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, funny insight into post-colonial Africa
What makes this book worth reading -- aside from a captivating style and humorous content -- is precisely what separates it from other excellent books about similar subject matter (Godwin's Mukiwa, Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions): the fact that Fuller makes no attempt to analyze, excuse, or explain the racism and insanity of her family history. Rather than rationalizing her parents' racist attitudes, Fuller chooses instead to simply describe in her wry, matter-of-fact voice precisely how the end of the colonial era was experienced by people implicated in it. She does not try to gloss her childhood experiences with politically correct hindsight, and in so doing thrusts the reader into the desperation and the joy of rural African life in the last three decades. Bobo's mother is one of the most memorable and remarkable personalities I've encountered in African literature. The book is worth reading entirely for its hysterical concluding scenes. Fuller's characters are real and human, in all their extraordinary bizarreness!

Having spent many an hour, like Bobo Fuller, poking grass into ant-lion holes in the hot dusty veld, this moving story captivated me and painted a moving portrait of people fighting the cruelty of the African landscape. Myth and reality are intertwined in a witty and beautiful story. Everyone should read this book!

3-0 out of 5 stars A different perspective
It was interesting to read a book about life in Africa, from the perspective of a white woman brought up in a family who clung fiercely to the notion of white supremacy with every last bit of their strength. I disagree with a previous reviewer, however, who seemed to excuse the racism of the Fuller parents by implying that the historic and political situation they were in "made" them that way. Racism is racism, no matter what the circumstance.

Despite the attitudes of the Fuller parents, their daughter Bobo has documented a well-written account of their life in various African countries, and provides vivid details about the smells, sights, and emotions that the continent evokes for her. Her writing really gives the reader a sense of both the incredible harshness and danger(poisonous snakes, itchy vegetation, scary militaristic governments, etc) of Africa, but also its gentleness and great beauty.

Although I think Alexandra Fuller writes very well, and I appreciate her honest writing about her parents' behavior and attitudes, I couldn't warm to the family. Despite their numerous trajedies and troubles, I found it difficult to feel sympathetic. In contrast, when I read "The Flame Trees of Thika", another memoir of an African childhood by another white woman, Elspeth Huxley, I rooted for her colonial, turn-of-the-century, white-is-right parents, Robin and Tilly, through all their successes and setbacks. They held the same attitude of racial superiority as the Fullers, yet there is something intrinsically more likeable about how they handled themselves on a continent where they were the minority race, political upheaval or no. After reading Fuller's memoir, it was a relief to pick up "Nervous Conditions" by black female Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, and read about three-dimensional black Africans. Her book is set in 1960s Rhodesia, for those interested (A. Fuller recommends it herself in the Afterword section of her memoir). Despite my personal reaction to this book, I recommend it to anyone interested in African writing, because I think that Alexandra Fuller's perspective is just as important and valid as that of any other African writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo
A wonderful insight into the mind of a child and a precise memoir of life itself. Life isn't straightforward and simple, yet we survive, thrive and love, even in the most difficult situations. Ms. Fuller: You said it all and you said it well.

1-0 out of 5 stars Just meanders . . .
I read this book for my book club. It just seemed to meander through her childhood, no real plot or climax. Yes, this girl definitely had a different type of childhood, but what makes it that interesting or significant?????

5-0 out of 5 stars A very different childhood
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller is an extraordinary memoir of growing up white in war ravaged Africa. Alexandra, called Bobo by her family, was born in 1969 in England. Her parents moved the family to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1972. Always suffering from "bad, bad luck", which included losing three children, the family moves from farm to farm within Rhodesia and Malawi.

Fuller's writing style is rich, lyrical and many times, funny. I could picture the land, feel the heat and smell the smoking fish that embodies the Africa she describes. I found myself laughing even as I was shaking my head in disbelief at some of the choices her parents made. Bobo's mother, Nicola Fuller, is racist, resilient, strong and mad as a hatter. In other words, she's the most memorable character in the book.

Of course, to Fuller all of this stress and strife was, while not exactly normal, expected. She was a child, after all, and it's all she'd ever known. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think that American kids really have no idea how hard their life could be.

Overall a captivating read. It left me reminiscing about my childhood and reflecting on how simple and uncomplicated (read boring) it was. ... Read more


27. The Spiral Staircase : My Climb Out of Darkness (Armstrong, Karen)
by KAREN ARMSTRONG
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385721277
Catlog: Book (2005-02-22)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 2175
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Karen Armstrong speaks to the troubling years following her decision to leave the life of a Roman Catholic nun and join the secular world in 1969. What makes this memoir especially fascinating is that Armstrong already wrote about this era once---only it was a disastrous book. It was too soon for her to understand how these dark, struggling years influenced her spiritual development, and she was too immature to protect herself from being be bullied by the publishing world. As a result, she agreed to portray herself only in as "positive and lively a light as possible"---a mandate that gave her permission to deny the truth of her pain and falsify her inner experience. The inspiration for this new approach comes from T. S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday, a series of six poems that speak to the process of spiritual recovery. Eliot metaphorically climbs a spiral staircase in these poems---turning again and again to what he does not want to see as he slowly makes progress toward the light. In revisiting her spiral climb out of her dark night of the soul, Armstrong gives readers a stunningly poignant account about the nature of spiritual growth. Upon leaving the convent, Armstrong grapples with the grief of her abandoned path and the uncertainty of her place in the world. On top of this angst, Armstrong spent years suffering from undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy, causing her to have frequent blackout lapses in memory and disturbing hallucinations---crippling symptoms that her psychiatrist adamantly attributed to Armstrong's denial of her femininity and sexuality. The details of this narrative may be specific to Armstrong's life, but the meanin! g she makes of her spiral ascent makes this a universally relevant story. All readers can glean inspiration from her insights into the nature of surrender and the possibilities of finding solace in the absence of hope. Armstrong shows us why spiritual wisdom is often a seasoned gift---no matter how much we strive for understanding, we can't force profound insights to occur simply because our publisher is waiting for them. With her elegant, humble and brave voice, she inspires readers to willingly turn our attention toward our false identities and vigilantly defended beliefs in order to better see the truth and vulnerability of our existence. Herein lies the staircase we can climb to enlightenment. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

Reviews (50)

3-0 out of 5 stars Sprial Staircase
Suberb book!Should be REQUIRED reading for every person who is seeking a more spiritual life.

3-0 out of 5 stars A bit tedious
I really enjoyed the early chapters of this book.The author's experiences as a young nun and her subsequent disillusionment with convent life make for fascinating reading.The years of struggling with an at-the-time undiagnosed illness also is of interest.Apart from the above, however, her story is one ofquite an ordinary life - perhaps even more inhibited and uneventful than most. Her story bogs down in the descriptions of her academic life and her living situations. Yes, she struggled with her faith - but who hasn't? She spends a great deal of time discovering things about life that would seem fairly obvious to others.At times her story was rather slow-moving, self-absorbed and even tedious.Did it inspire me?Only a little.Would I go on to read any other of this author's books? I doubt it. I could barely finish this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning story of a spiritual quest
Karen Armstrong is one of the best general interest writers on religion today, and this wonderful autobiography relates how she got there. Armstrong was a Catholic nun in the 60's, during a time of great upheaval in the church. After a 7 year struggle to subdue her intelligent, inquisitive spirit, described in "Through the Narrow Gate," she left the convent, and the struggle really began. Armstrong describes herself as caught in between, in a sort of no-man's land, having lost the vision of God she pursued for so long, but ill at ease in the secular world. She also suffers from deep depression, loss of memory, and hallucinations, which years of psychiatric treatment fail to cure. It is a measure of her misery during this period that a diagnosis of epilepsy is a liberating turning point for her.

Armstrong's long and tortuous path towards a life as an author includes a failed doctoral thesis, being fired from a teaching job, and a failed TV project on the Crusades. But "Through the Narrow Gate" was a surprising success, and "The History of God" established her as a popular (meaning non-scholarly, but serious) writer on Christianity, Judiasm and Islam.

As honest as Armstrong's account of her struggle is, it's not all here. She dismisses her apparently limited experience with men in a terse paragraph, viewing any such involvement as a loss of freedom. And her view of Christianity is, perhaps understandably, quite negative, her view of Islam perhaps overly positive, as she downplays the fanatical, "jihad" aspects that have marred Islam in modern times.

Armstrong's story is an important one, spanning four turbulent decades in the history of modern religion. Read "Through the Narrow Gate" first, then "Staircase." They're well-worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Happy Discovery
I came across this title in a women's magazine book review section.Something about the synopsis intrigued me, and I bought a copy.I was so impressed by Ms Armstrong's writing style, use of language, and her compelling honesty in describing her experiences that I read the book in less than a week.She has a luminous clarity of mind that drew me into the nightmarish world of the convent and on to her self-searching quest for identity and scholarship.Hers is a story of survival and transcendence.I look forward to reading her books on Islam and Buddha, among others.She also has an essay in the April 2005 issue of Utne magazine, warning that "misbegotten U.S. foreign policy is pushing Islamic fundamentalists closer and closer to the use of weapons of mass destruction."She's a brilliant woman, a gifted writer, and I highly recommend this memoir.

5-0 out of 5 stars For more about temporal lobe epilepsy and religiosity...
This fascinating autobiography describes Karen Armstrong's diagnosis with temporal lobe epilepsy, a little-known but common brain disorder often associated with intense religious feelings and prodigious creativity. To learn more about this remarkable disorder and its appearance in the painter Vincent van Gogh and the writers Fyodor Dostoevsky and Lewis Carroll, go to Eve LaPlante's 1993 book, Seized, available in paperback. ... Read more


28. Memories Of A Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down The Yellow Brick Road
by Meinhardt Raabe, DANIEL KINSKE
list price: $39.95
our price: $26.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0823091937
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Backstage Books
Sales Rank: 11444
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Dear Readers,

I will never forget the morning that Meinhardt Raabe’s agent called me and insisted on stopping by my office that very same day. "I’ve got a Wizard of Oz project that you have to see to believe." From the moment I looked at Mr.Raabe’s charming memoir and his remarkable collection of Oz memorabilia, Iknew this would be a book unlike any that I have published.

Memories of A Munchkin, written by Meinhardt Raabe with Daniel Kinske, almost feels like three books in one.

Part one is a memoir by Raabe who stepped into film history at the age of 23 when he played the Munchkin coroner in THE WIZARD OF OZ. It’s a charming and inspiring story that begins on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, moves to hisappearance in a special "Midget Village" exhibit at the 1934 World's Fair and on to Hollywood. Through an agent, Raabe was cast in THE WIZARD OF OZ and much of the memoir is devoted to his account of working on the most beloved film of all time - enduring tough auditions, watching as the glorious Munchkinland set was built, putting up with long days of rehearsal, being costumed by legendary MGM designer Adrian, hob-nobbing on the set with the stars, witnessing various mishaps during filming, being visited on the set by curious Hollywood royalty such as Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable, and much more. Here, too, is Raabe's life after THE WIZARD OF OZ: His career as an accomplished pilot with the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; more than 30 years as "Little Oscar," spokesman for the Oscar Mayer ompany; his charity work and his role as advocate and kindred spirit to Little People everywhere. Mr. Raabe’s memoir is lavishly illustrated with the most incredible material such as!blueprints of the Munchkinland set, Adrian’s costume sketches, MGM’s original Oz matte paintings, and many rare, behind-the-scenes photos from director Victor Fleming’s personal scrapbook.

Part two of the book is the most complete collection of OZ movie posters and lobby cards ever published. Included are a beautiful watercolor painted by the legendary Al Hirschfeld, and the jumbo window card that was originallydisplayed in Mr. Raabe’s hometown theater of Watertown, WI!

Part three is a collection of specially commissioned Oz art from some of the world’s best-known and best-loved illustrators – people like Al Hirschfeld, Frank Frazetta, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis and Frank Kelly Freas. I especially like Ron Dias’ painting of what he imagines the interior of a Munchkin house would look like, and Philo Barnhart’s piece that combines the main characters of Oz with those of Snow White. Duck Edwing’s piece, Hearse of aDifferent Color, could not be more colorful or more charming. And you won’t believe all the detail – and clever humor – in Tom Bunk’s piece depicting the Kansas tornado at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Put it all together and you have a treasure trove of Oz stories and memorabilia. No fan of this beloved Hollywood classic will want to be without Memories of A Munchkin.

Mark Glubke Senior Editor Back Stage Books ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Really Most Sincerly .... Wonderful!
This book is a must have for any die hard(like me) fan of the 1939 film THE WIZARD OF OZ. It is brimming with never before seen pictures of the movie set, munchkins, scene direction...not to mention other movie stars of the day & lots of Judy Garland!
Meinhardt's story is both intersting & compelling, he's a sweetheart!
Don't miss out...buy this book TODAY! ... Read more


29. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
by Charles Seife, Matt Zimet
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140296476
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 10850
Average Customer Review: 3.68 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Charles Seife traces the origins and colorful history of the number zero from Aristotle to superstring theory by way of Pythagoras, the Kabbalists, and Einstein. Weaving together ancient dramas and state-of-the-art science, Zero is a concise tour of a universe of ideas bound up in the simple notion of nothingness. ... Read more

Reviews (82)

3-0 out of 5 stars A good summary
Despite the abstract nature of it's subject matter, this book is a surprisingly breezy and informative read about the history of zero and it's value in the mathematics (and scientific) revolutions of the 1600s and still today. It's part history, part math primer, and part practical guide, with the later chapters focussing on how the zero is used in physics and astronomy.

Seiff has an engaging style and he doesn't talk down or talk above the reader. Although Seiff obviously is an expert in difficult math, he doesn't overwhelm you with equations or get too abstract. Even sections on trig and calculus are written in everyday language that you can easily follow. The book does begin to trail off at Chapter 7-8, from here much of the book seems like filler. I preferred "The Nothing That Is" (also about the zero number) a little because I was more interested in the history and that book covers it more, but Seiff still does a fine job here with history of zero, and his book is probably more useful for students trying to know how to use the zero and it's concepts for their math classes, especially figuring out the limit and other calculations.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very engaging, interesting, and enlightening read
The title of this book is "Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea." Certainly, what Charles Seife wrote does not disappoint: it IS a biography of zero. It starts from its conception in early history, and progresses to outline its development in history through the branches of mathematics, physics, art, and even philosophy. A previous reader was disappointed that the book took time to focus on physics and philosophy, but keep in mind that zero is not limited only to the mathematical realm. Indeed, it is pervasive in society, and it has affected the way we view the world. So to talk about zero yet disregard its important contributions to fields other than mathematics would be a travesty.

Seife's book is a very engaging and enlightening read. Seife looks at how zero has become: the foundation for calculus (taking limits to zero), a revolutionary idea in art (3d drawings have a point of infinity to give depth perception...and infinity and zero are just different sides of the same coin), an important concept of the numberline, and many other places. Indeed, I have read this book many times, sometimes for a quick browse and sometimes for an indepth read, and it has always been a pleasure to read.

Moreover, Seife is very knowledgeable in what he writes, and he brings a sense of humor as well--if you have ever read his article about the debate on cold fusion in 'Science' or 'Scientific American' (it was one or the other, its been a while since that article was published in the early 90s I believe) you'll see his sense of humor in his concluding paragraph (cold fusion or confusion anyone?).

And in response to another review earlier, the reader said that in the appendix there was a proof where a=1 and b=1, and from the equation a^2 - b^2 = a^2 - ab it can be found that 1=0 by factoring the difference of squares and dividing by (a-b). The reader commented that this is dividing by 0, that such an operation violates a fundamental law of algebra (cannot divide by zero), and that an editor should have caught it.

The point is that Seife is showing WHY you cannot divide by 0, that the result is 1=0 and that logic and mathematics would be invalid. He is showing why zero may be a 'dangerous idea'!

In conclusion, this book is superb in its writing and content. It lives up to what it was meant to do, to show the development of zero through history. It is clear, concise, and witty. You will not be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Zero is fundamental
Entertaining book for students of philosophy, historians, and math neophytes, but Seife's simple-minded application of the principle of the conservation of energy to the quantum electrodynamic sea of spacetimemassenergy, i.e. the "zero point field," among other things, reveals him to be among the least imaginitive of physicists. His dismissive proposition that "nothing can come from nothing," overlooks the very simple fact that the QED sea of energy is hardly "nothing," otherwise there would be no such thing as Brownian motion or the Casimir Effect, not to mention the space, time, mass, and energy of our universe. Hal Puthoff claims that a cupful of this so called "vacuum energy" could boil away the oceans of our planet. (The most intriguing concept of "zero" is that promulageted by today's heretics such as Tom Bearden.) Presumably, however, Seife's math and philosophical history of zero is accurate. Before reading this book, this reader had known very little of it, and it was this part that he found quite enjoyable.

1-0 out of 5 stars Jumbled mess of ideas
This is a mildly interesting and entertaining book about history of zero that unfortunately tries to be too cute with its style and to pull in so many unrelated ideas, it loses focus as you turn the pages. When "Zero" stays on topic it's OK. Seife has a pretty good grounding in most of the history, and it was facsinating to read about how the number was used for such simple purpose for Babylonians but became so important for abstract number systems later.

Middle section of the book deals with zero in calculus, useful for any student toughing it out thru intro calc. But Seife gets too drawn in to all the goofy philosophical wanderings you can make about zero, he goes off on way too many tangents that don't make sense. Yes, you can't divide 1 by 0 and the number has a special role in most operations, but how do these properties threaten to bring down the whole framework of math (to paraphrase)? There's all kinds of talk about how zero and infinity are just two sides of the same coin-- why? The author tries to sound like a sage but doesn't make much sense with the claims on these pages.

Whole thing comes apart in the last couple of chapters on physics, cosmology, and applied math which are slim on facts and chock-full of flowery language about how important zero is but where the author really doesn't back his claims. In fact, as the book goes on it seems to make less sense, as though it doesn't quite know what it's supposed to be saying as it moves farther afield from history and calculus. Why are these later chapters even here? They don't add anything and detract from the book's overall value.

4-0 out of 5 stars Zero is not just a number, its a way of life
A very interesting book. The Author shows how mindsets, philosophies and cultures had to change to enable the Zero to be accepted. The West overlooked then resisted the idea of zero.
When the zero idea took hold and was finally accepted it affected everything from Aristoteloism, to commerce, to Art. Even the biblical creation stories took on a different light.
Art in the West during the Renaissance gained a major improvement
as the sense of perspective was developed. This vanishing point within a painting is the equivalnt of the introduction of Zero into the art world .
I would read other books by this author, interesting history, The book moves right along, I like the Author's style, plenty of background, but always stayed the coure. I believe an audio book
is probably not the correct format for this information. I would have liked to have seen the test portraying some of the
equtions. ... Read more


30. Silent Bob Speaks : The Collected Writings of Kevin Smith
by Kevin Smith
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401359736
Catlog: Book (2005-04-13)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 8437
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the award-winning screenwriter and director -- a collection of irreverent and hilarious rants on the absurdity of just about everything.

In 1994, Kevin Smith debuted his low-budget film Clerks at the Sundance Film Festival. It became an instant cult classic and made Smith the top dog of the indie film world. Next he was an executive producer of the smash hit Good Will Hunting and quickly earned the title "King of Gen X Cinema" from Time magazine. He appeared on Charlie Rose, Politically Incorrect, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and currently holds a regular spot on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno hosting a segment entitled "Roadside Attractions." Fans of his films will instantly recognize Smith as Silent Bob -- the character with no lines. And last year Smith began writing a hilarious monthly column covering popular culture for Arena magazine.

In this side-splitting rant-fest, Kevin Smith waxes rhapsodic and obnoxious on everything from his platonic infatuation with Ben Affleck to his bloodcurdling hatred of Britney Spears, from his shocking diagnosis with morbid obesity to the fatal flaws of SpiderMan -- all done in his inimitable, raunchy style.

Silent Bob Speaks interweaves the best of the Arena columns with a new introduction by the author to produce Smith’s first collection of bawdy, over-the-top essays, guaranteed to make his legions of fans choke on their Cheerios. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, worth picking up.
Kevin is the type of guy you'd love to hang with. Intelligent, witty, has a wonderful way with the english language, colorful phrasing and all.

If you're not really into Kevin, his films, or the whole View Askew thing this isn't really the best place to start. This is however a nice collection containing previously published material from magazines and the web. Perfect for me since I'm not a magazine person and don't really read the web stuff regularly.

I am however a total "movie snob" and appreciate the anecdotes, opinions, truths and obvious biased views spewed into the ether by this dude. It is very interesting for example reading some of these essays years after movies being discussed have been released (and in some cases tanking at the box office). His interview with Cruise was a pleasure to read and made me want to take a second look at some of the projects T.C. has done recently, while he openly gushes (and of course is hard for) Affleck. Again, this ends up being a very revealing read especially after the Bennifer debacle.

While I will always disagree with Kevin about the Star Wars prequels (dude, they're self indulgent pieces of poopie), Rats was the bomb yo!

Pick up the book, 4 out of 5 from the Canadian judge!

4-0 out of 5 stars Like his movies, mostly hits and few bad jokes...
This not a serious book and Smith himself makes no bones about that.It is filled with the same kind lol jokes that his films are--some dumb--but mostly hilarious.The pieces cover much of his career the last 8 years or so.They are from various sources.With the except of his piece defending Star Wars and his final piece on ComicCon, the book is a great look at Smith.I happen to be big fan of all of his work (even liked Jersey Girl) and the man himself.He is humble, self-effacing, and just damned happy to be where he is.His take on Cruise and Affleck is rare in this media age--he loves these guys and tells us why.He is still a fan.He is also a husband and a father--some of the best stuff in here is about that.And, his essay on New Jersey and his friend Walt was just awesome.No need to nitpick over the few things don't work--the book is great for any big KS fan.Even one like me, who doesn't read comics.

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't read this review - just buy the book!
It's a quick read, primarily made up of articles that Kevin wrote for Arena magazine.Definitely worth the $10 Amazon's charging for it. The bit where Kevin interviews Tom Cruise is one of my favorites. Pretty funny stuff - caught my self laughing out loud at just about every story.Oh man, when Ben is telling Kevin's daughter that he's her real father..... ... Read more


31. Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd
by Eugene B. Bergmann
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1557836000
Catlog: Book (2004-11-01)
Publisher: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books
Sales Rank: 1843
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jean Shepherd (1921-1999), master humorist, is best known for his creation A Christmas Story, the popular movie about the child who wants a BB gun for Christmas and nearly shoots his eye out. What else did Shepherd do? He is considered by many to be the Mark Twain and James Thurber of his day. For many thousands of fans, for decades, "Shep" talked on the radio late at night, keeping them up way past their bedtimes. He entertained without a script, improvising like a jazz musician, on any and every subject you can imagine. He invented and remains the master of talk radio. Shepherd perpetrated one of the great literary hoaxes of all time, promoting a nonexistent book and author, and then brought the book into existence. He wrote 23 short stories for Playboy, four times winning their humor of the year award, and also interviewed The Beatles for the magazine. He authored several popular books of humor and satire, created several television series and acted in several plays. He is the model for the character played by Jason Robards in the play and movie A Thousand Clowns, as well as the inspiration for the Shel Silverstein song made famous by Johnny Cash, "A Boy Named Sue." Readers will learn the significance of innumerable Shepherd words and phrases, such as "Excelsior, you fathead," and observe his constant confrontations with the America he loved. They will get to know and understand this multitalented genius by peeking behind the wall he built for himself - a wall to hide a different and less agreeable persona. Through interviews with his friends, co-workers and creative associates, such as musician David Amram, cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer, publisher and broadcaster Paul Krassner, and author Norman Mailer, the book explains a complex and unique genius of our time. "Shepherd pretty much invented talk radio ... What I got of him was a wonder at the world one man could create. I am as awed now by his achievement as I was then." - Richard Corliss, Time magazine online ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful mix
What a wonderful mix of in-depth information about both Jean Shepherd's body of work (which to me seems timeless) and revealing interviews that draw Shepherd's enigmatic life and humanity into sharper focus.Bergmann does a fine job of explaining why Shep's fans are so loyal; what were Shep's best contributions to radio, TV, film, literature, and stage; and does this while making us aware of Shep's enigmatic less-than-perfect personal life.This latter subject, however, does not detract from portraying the man as an overall likeable character or significant artist.A great read for anyone, whether familiar with Jean Shepherd's work or not.Thank you Eugene Bergmann!

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book EVER on Jean Shepherd and his particular genius
Imagine doing a radio show every night and not just ANY radio show but one in which you told stories that sounded like you'd made them up on the spot. That was part of the unique charm, eccentricity and genius of Jean Shepherd, a man who was a wonderful writer as well (anyone who has ever seen A Christmas story, complete with Ralphie and his coveted BB gun, has come in contact with one of Shepherd's works).

Bergmann has really done his homework in writing this bio of Shepherd and the results make for a wonderful read and a glimpse into days when radio really had an impact on people, a time when people took the time to listen to stories on the radio, something that may be making a bit of a comeback (as evidenced by Prairie Home Companion and other shows which feature short stories and other works read aloud). Shepherd was a pioneer, however, and no one has come close to his skill and genius. This book goes a long way in explaning why while it also reveals the particular demons that tormented and drove Shepherd. Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Shep Lives!
"Excelsior you Fathead" left as many questions as it answered, but, then again, so did its subject - Jean Shepherd.Punctuated by Shepherd's own words, this insightful book chronicles the most innovative, and underrated, American humorist of all time. Jean Shepherd will forever be known as the creative force, and narrator, behind "A Christmas Story" - a movie that has achieved "classic" proportions.Thankfully, Mr. Bergmann does not dwell on this topic, but digs much deeper into Shepherd's less popularly known, but far more groundbreaking, pursuits - including, particularly, his nightly broadcasts on the powerful New York radio station, WOR.Bergmann weaves together Shepherd's own words with biographical highlights and first-hand accounts of those who knew him.Sprinkled in along the way are Bergmann's personal musings on the often dark, but always fascinating, enigma that characterized his subject's life.Thankfully, and to his great credit, Bergmann stops just short of making sense of it all - recognizing, wisely, as Shepherd himself did, that our world is more about contradictions and pretensions than abject certainties.

In his landmark book, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" (from which much of "A Christmas Story" was drawn), Shepherd posed a question.He wondered whether the coming-of-age, Midwestern-value-laden innocence embodied by his childhood best friend, Flick, had managed to survive in modern America.Immediately after the book's publication, graffiti artists all over New York City answered with the spray-painted declaration, "Flick Lives" - which was read by millions, but only understood by Shepherd's clued-in fans (who he often referred to as his "gang").Now, forty years later, and six years after Shepherd's passing, Bergmann should be justifiably proud because, due his comprehensive and entertaining book, I can happily report that not only does Flick live, but so does Shep!I strongly urge you to buy a copy and join the gang of those whose lives have been forever enhanced by Jean Shepherd's genius.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Shepherd Fans
If you are a Jean Shepherd fan like I am, this book is essential - you may not be able to put it down.I have never seen such an in-depth analysis of Shep's radio work.The author clearly did his homework, listening to and transcribingover 500 radio shows.I already knew some of the dark side - for example, that Shepherd became extremely bitter late in his career and virtually disowned his radio work.Unfortunately, it was rather disillusioning to find out Shep was also quite possibly the World's Worst Father, abandoning his two children while they were still in the crib and denying their existence in his last will and testament. I guess everyone has their issues... As the author warns, this is not a standard biography, and there may never be one, as Shepherd was a master at obscuring the facts of his life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! A Must Read for all of Shepherd's Flock!
Open this book and you will enter a portal into the world of Jean Shepherd as you have never quite experienced him before. This book is pure bliss for any Shepherd follower! A "must read" for any and all who count themselves among his flock!As with Shep's broadcasts, you will not ever want it to end.The great thing is you can savor it at your own pace, reading and re-reading it until late into the night. Just wish Shep was around to see THIS! ... Read more


32. Breathing Out
by Peggy Lipton, Coco Dalton, David Dalton
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 0312324138
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 2311
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Book Description

Peggy Lipton's overnight success as Julie Barnes on television's hit The Mod Squad made her an instant fashion icon and the "it" girl everyone-from Elvis to Paul McCartney-wanted to date. She was the original and ultimate California girl of the early seventies, complete with stick-straight hair, a laid-back style, and a red convertible. But Lipton was much more: smart and determined to not be just another leggy blonde, she struggled for a way to stay connected to her childhood roots, though her coming of age had not been an easy one. And when she fell in love with Quincy Jones, that wasn't easy, either: their biracial marriage made headlines and changed her life.

Lipton's passionate and complicated seventeen-year marriage to Jones plunged her into motherhood and also into periods of confusion and difficulty. Her struggle to keep moving forward in the world while maintaining a rich inner life informed many of her decisions as an adult. When Lipton's marriage to Jones ended, she returned to television, appearing in David Lynch's Twin Peaks as well as in The Vagina Monologues and other stage productions. But her most recent triumph has been her overcoming a surprising diagnosis of colon cancer in 2003.

Breathing Out is full of fresh stories of life with the pop culture icons of our times, but is also a much more thoughtful book about life in the limelight, work, motherhood, and marriage. It's a refreshing and real look at the life of an actress who became, in many senses, a woman of her times.
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33. Truth & Beauty : A Friendship
by Ann Patchett
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.76
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Asin: 0060572140
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 2189
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women's friendships and shows us what it means to stand together.

Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving a person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and about being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

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Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A BROKEN HEART AND A BRILLIANT MIND
If you've read Lucy Grealy's book AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE, you must read Ann Patchett's book TRUTH & BEAUTY. Ann was Lucy's best friend and tells the story of their loving and literary friendship. Ann's book is filled with Lucy's letters. The book tells of how Lucy was taunted by kids and adults because of her facial cancer. Readers get to see into Lucy's heart and how because of her "ugly" face she thought no one would ever love her. yet she beds every man who says something nice to her out of a need to connect and feel "love.". this book is a fantastic look into the heart and mind of someone with a visible disability. it is about someone with a brilliant mind. and it's filled with triumph and tragedy. And if you haven't read AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE, I recommend that too. In both books you'll see the life of a driven woman hoping her genius and writing abilities will save her from what she thinks is the tragedy of her disability and make someone love her and she will live happily ever after. Sadly Lucy died of a drug overdose a few years ago. was it an accident or suicide?? she was heartbroken. she never thought she would find love. but so many of her friends loved her.

4-0 out of 5 stars Patchett's Frank and Tender First Work of Nonfiction
Female friendships are one of the most complex human relationships, regardless of age. And in TRUTH & BEAUTY, author Ann Patchett does nothing to dispel the mystery of girlfriends. If anything, she adds to it.

Although this book is nonfiction, it reads like fiction. Readers will dive into the story, greedily gathering information about the two main subjects --- Patchett and her friend, Lucy Grealy --- like characters in a novel. They were two young and ambitious women who go directly from Sarah Lawrence to the Iowa's Writers Workshop, the most coveted graduate school for writers. They develop a friendship that straddles the lines of intimacy, and they find literary fame. Along the way they form a bond that is difficult to describe. It spans continents, weathers illnesses both physical and mental, and seems to survive even death. But this is not a work of fiction, and so the eloquent writing of this well-known author packs even more of a punch. These are real people; this is Patchett's life, her beloved friend who lives, metaphorically speaking, just beyond her reach.

Patchett recreates her life with Grealy by interspersing their history with letters she received from Grealy over the years, postmarked from Scotland, New York, Providence, Connecticut, and all of the other places she traveled, taught and lived. They are letters that reveal a literary voice filled with love and admiration for a woman to whom she referred as "Pet." She was a competitive woman who was known to jump into Patchett's lap and ask repeatedly, "Am I your favorite? Do you love me the most?" And inevitably the answer was yes.

"Dearest Anvil, she would write to me six years later, dearest deposed president of some now defunct but lovingly remembered country, dearest to me, I can find no suitable words of affection for you, words that will contain the whole of your wonderfulness to me. You will have to make due with being my favorite bagel, my favorite blue awning above some great little café where the coffee is strong but milky and had real texture to it."

Narrated by Patchett, TRUTH & BEAUTY could be described as an analysis of Grealy, a woman who fights an uphill battle to recover physically from a cancer that robbed her of her outward beauty as a child, though it amplified an inner beauty. Grealy, as Patchett tells us, had a kind of animal magnetism that drew the best of people to her. She underwent at least 35 surgeries to rebuild a jaw decimated by radiation and lived her life subsisting on mashed fruits, ice cream and the occasional milkshake. Despite the staggering number of surgeries, the procedures never quite worked and much of Grealy's life was spent lamenting what she believed were her physical inadequacies. Yet TRUTH & BEAUTY is not a sad story. In fact, it features the gifts of Grealy's best features: her wit, gaiety and zest for life.

And while it focuses on Grealy and Patchett's friendship, TRUTH & BEAUTY may be better described as a study of human nature. Patchett writes about the intricacies of the human heart in THE MAGICIAN'S ASSISTANT, THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS and BEL CANTO, and she tackles the subject once again in TRUTH & BEAUTY. The constant search for a love that seems to be right in front of a person's eyes is a recurring theme for Patchett, who weaves a beautiful if not frustrating story of a friendship that she worked diligently to maintain.

In life many people struggle to find reciprocal friendships in men and women. And, frequently, outsiders perceive even the best of friendships to be one-sided. This may also be the case here. Readers will complete TRUTH & BEAUTY with a keen appreciation for the love that exists between women, the unwavering loyalty that friends can maintain through years of turmoil and emotional trials. And while loyalty (as we see in this 257-page story) may falter occasionally, it can withstand the test of time. And perhaps even beyond.

--- Reviewed by Heather Grimshaw

4-0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for tender sensitivities
Well written, strangely powerful and often horrifying. I can't quite recommend it. It's a special sort of pathology that many of us have encountered.

4-0 out of 5 stars Painful and Questionable
I read this book directly after reading Autobiography of a Face. Lucy seemed to have a huge black hole in her soul that she constantly looked to others to fill up. Obviously she never learned to love herself, so her friends were her mirrors to her soul. She searched endlessly for love on the outside but her greatest quest was her search for the ability to love herself with all her physical flaws.
I saw Lucy's repeated surgeries simply a way to stay connected with something she knew and a place where she felt comfortable and accepted. The surgeries were physically painful but they gave her an opportunity to have everyone care for her openly and with such extraordinary allegiance, a true sign of love. Lucy could never quite embrace it and assimilate that love into her psyche.
Was it guilt that drove Ann to write this book wondering if there wasn't something she could have done to make the ending different? I felt a sense of relief when Lucy's life was finally over. What quality did she ever have in her existence? I think Ann went above and beyond the realm of friendship. One has to wonder why she hung in there through everything for a one-way friendship? Why was Ann so possessed by Lucy? It's a question we will never know but one that the book continually asks.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful tribute
Patchett's book is a beautifully written tribute to an exceptionally intense friendship. The author takes you through her relationship with Lucy Grealy although side-stepping prolonged analysis of why their bond was so tight. The reader can draw his or her own conclusion; close attention should be paid to the excerpts from Grealy's letters, which reveal her intellect, her delight in words and her charisma. One thing that astonished me, despite having read Autobiography of a Face when it was first published, was how much physical discomfort Grealy constantly dealt with. Her problem was far more than just an aesthetic problem -- she had only six teeth left, couldn't chew food normally and was constantly in danger of choking because she couldn't close her lips. It amazes me that she was able to be as productive as she was despite to this condition, even before factoring in the multiple surgeries. Grealy clearly had the heart of a lion and it's no surprise that people were drawn to her inner strength, even when it was clouded by her understandable depression and feelings of isolation and want. ... Read more


34. Black Boy (Perennial Classics)
by Richard A. Wright
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060929782
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: Perennial Classics
Sales Rank: 11016
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

With an introduction by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming off age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.

"Superb...The Library of America has insured that most of Wright's major texts are now available as he wanted them to be tread...Most important of all is the opportunity we now have to hear a great American writer speak with his own voice about matters that still resonate at the center of our lives."
--Alfred Kazin, New York Time Book Review

"The publication of this new edition is not just an editorial innovation, it is a major event in American literary history."
--Andrew Delbanco, New Republic

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Reviews (117)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent description of negro life in the 1920's
"Black Boy" is a great autobiographical book written by Richard Wright. Richard, the main character in the story, goes through many trials and tribulations in finding what he loves to do- write. The description of the hardships of negro life in the 1920's and how discrimination ran rampant was excellently described by Wright....the only flaw is maybe a little overexaggeration going on in the descriptions of racism and other hate from whites towards blacks. Richard Wright descibes well though the trials and tribulations of an average negro in American society in that time period. This book is great for teenagers; over the age of 16 though. I say this because vulgar language is constant throughout the story and a couple sex scenes are described explicitly in the book. This is a must-read for young adults.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book To Read
I recently read Black Boy by Richard Wright and I must say it is an amazing book. The book is about Richard growing up in the South in the early 1900's. It may sound a little boring but believe me it's not. Richard had a hard life growing up and that's what makes the book so interesting. Burning up houses, killing cats, and becoming a drunk were just some of the things he did before reaching the age of eight. The thing I like most about him is how he grew up very poor, moved from place to place, including an orphanage, never completed two consecutive school years, and still managed to become a well-educated young man and a world-famous writer. Although the book was very interesting there were some parts at the end that I felt were a little boring, but maybe that's just me. Either way, I think Richard Wright was a very talented writer, and if you get the chance, you should read his autobiography, Black Boy. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of thirteen that is interested in learning about history or just likes to read about some hardships other people had to face growing up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wright Auto Bio
The first Wrift book I read was the impressive 'Native Son'. I found Black Boy and read it. It's easy to read and gives you a good insight in how black life in the south was in the 1920. Wright's life as for so many has not been easy: no father, a crippled mother, racism abound. But still he finds time to read books and he reads the classics. Especially Babbit was one of his favorites (and one of mine too). Via Memphis he goes to Chicago were he becomes a more famous writer and starts working/writing for the communist party where he has a lot of trouble as an independant thinker.

This book gives a great insight into black life. REal events are interspersed with his thinking about race relations. It is also easy to read and won't take a long time to finish. Definitely worth reading!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book to Remember
Black Boy, an autobiography written by Richard Wright, describes what many average African American children faced growing up in the Jim Crow South. Wright described the poverty that he, his friends and family lived through and the agony and dangers they had to face day-to-day. Wright also described the unfair treatment from white people that African Americans had to endure and ignore. He also described how white people treated African Americans as slaves. Wright wrote in excruciating detail bringing to the reader what life was truly like in the South and in the U.S. in the early 1900s.
I enjoyed reading Black Boy since it gave me insight into how African Americans were really treated in the South. The book really showed me the crisis that America was in over racial segregation. Black Boy also described the despicable acts that white people committed on African Americans for pleasure and entertainment. Richard Wright's actions showed me how a person that is always put down can still strive to be the best. Wright never gave up and kept on dreaming about his goals in life. Wright's book really showed the determination that one can have. His actions in life influenced me to never give up and to keep on trying no matter what someone tells me to do. This was a great book and if one wants to understand what things were like for African Americans in the South in the 1900s, they should read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A remarkable autobiography
Black Boy is a outstanding autobiography about Richard Wright. Richard writes about his whole life. The book shows the great discrimination Richard faced, as well as he a lot of the times stood up for what he believed in. He fights the world back and in the end his dream of becoming a writer comes true, but not only does he become a writer he also becomes one of the best writers of the 20th century. ... Read more


35. Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare
by Clare Asquith
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586483161
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Sales Rank: 35088
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A revelatory new look at how Shakespeare secretly addressed the most profound political issues of his day, and how his plays embody a hidden history of England

In 16th century England many loyal subjects to the crown were asked to make a terrible choice: to follow their monarch or their God. The era was one of unprecedented authoritarianism: England, it seemed, had become a police state, fearful of threats from abroad and plotters at home. This age of terror was also the era of the greatest creative genius the world has ever known: William Shakespeare. How, then, could such a remarkable man born into such violently volatile times apparently make no comment about the state of England in his work?He did. But it was hidden. Revealing Shakespeare's sophisticated version of a forgotten code developed by 16th-century dissidents, Clare Asquith shows how he was both a genius for all time and utterly a creature of his own era: a writer who was supported by dissident Catholic aristocrats, who agonized about the fate of England's spiritual and political life and who used the stage to attack and expose a regime which he believed had seized illegal control of the country he loved.Shakespeare's plays offer an acute insight into the politics and personalities of his era. And Clare Asquith's decoding of them offers answers to several mysteries surrounding Shakespeare's own life, including most notably why he stopped writing while still at the height of his powers. An utterly compelling combination of literary detection and political revelation, Shadowplay is the definitive expose of how Shakespeare lived through and understood the agonies of his time, and what he had to say about them. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Even If It Has Lots of Speculative Ideas
This is an entertaining book if nothing else.... and I am not trying to be negative in any way. For someone new to Shakespeare, this book is a bit complicated and that particular reader will fail to grasp some the arguments. I found it slightly hard to challenge all of her ideas and conclusion since she draws on a wealth of knowledge. I have attempted to learn something about Shakespeare and started by reading three popular biographies by three well known authors: Burgess, Kermode, and Greenblatt. Plus I have scanned or read a number of other books - see my Listmania list on Shakspeare. Eventually I bought Asimov's guide to Shakespeare, which is just a joy to read, and The Norton Shakespeare, the 3500 page monster that is the best single book - as a general reference on the works and times. Today one can enjoy most of Shakespeare's works on DVD and there are thousands of books, magazines, and journal articles available on the subject.

Writing a biography or an analysis about Shakespeare - putting it mildly - is a challenge, especially if the aim is to present and discuss new information as we have here. The idea that one might find new ideas about a 450 year old Shakespeare is virtually impossible. Thus, all the Shakespeare biographers and writers including Asquith are dependent on Shakespeare's works themselves, plus those books that immediately followed Shakespeare's life such as John Aubrey's book Brief Lives (1626 to 1697), and the various civic records from London and Stratford, along with court records, land transfer documents, and wills, etc. He left no notes nor did he write a biography.

All these books - including the present book - are not about new information. They are about presenting a coherent picture of Shakespeare and his environment: political, socio-economic, historic, sources of myths, religious ideas, other writers, etc. In reviewing the books the differences one sees in the books are in the styles, depth of knowledge, amount of speculation, facts, writing skill, holding the reader, etc.

The present book attempts to bring us an analysis based on the "hidden meanings" or code words and phrases, or simply a deeper understanding of his works, so we can find clues in his writings. This concept is not new since Shakespeare left no diaries and all we have are his writings and those writings of his contemporaries. There have been thousands of books and articles on Shakespeare, but as I wrote above, none by him, and most are centuries after he died.

In trying to judge her arguments - and I am not an expert - I looked fairly carefully at Chapter 15 or "Silenced" where she puts forward the theory that the Tempest was a sort of final personal tour de force for Shakespeare and that he was forced to retire - since he had a Catholic bias in childhood or some Catholic tendencies - and he had to leave London. We will never really know the real story unless we suddenly discover Shakespeare's secret diary after 400 years, but to me this seems like mostly speculation. Around this time he bought property at the Blackfriars in London so clearly he was not completely cutting his ties with London and the theatre. For myself, I suspect that he was simply getting tired after 20 years of writing and had accumulated enough money to retire, and in fact he lived only a few more years. That is the generally accepted view. It is generally thought that his father was a secret Catholic who had suppressed his public views in the mid 15th century as a town bailiff and alderman under the rule of Elizabeth. William Shakespeare the son seemed more neutral and had always lived with the continuous anti-Catholic intimidation factor of heads stuck on spikes, including many Catholic martyrs, as he walked back and forth across the bridge to London from the south bank, so I see nothing really dramatic here to cause a sudden change forcing him out of the theatre. Also, that chapter has just a few references beyond Ben Johnson.

In summary, this is a quick and entertaining read about Shakespeare with some speculation, and it merits at least 4 stars. I enjoyed the book but was not totally convinced. She needs more specific references to back up her points - in my opinion. Still it is a good 4 star read.
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36. Gift from the Sea
by ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH
list price: $8.95
our price: $8.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679732411
Catlog: Book (1991-01-30)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 5132
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

I found a 1955 printing of this book in an old waterfront cabin and was struck by the care with which the previous owner had read it. Eve (the name inscribed inside the front cover and then again above the heading for chapter 3) made pencil marks on nearly every paragraph of the book, underlining a phrase, highlighting many passages with strong vertical marks, scratching out some words that she seems to have found superfluous and even x-ing out whole sections that apparently missed their mark with her altogether. Two rusting paper clips isolate several pages, absent any marking at all. Anne Morrow Lindbergh's lyrical words are still relevant and presage so many of the themes of today's most popular books: simplicity, peaceful solitude, caring for the soul, a woman finding her place in society and life. I heard that the woman who had lived in the cabin had actually passed away some time before. Thank you, Eve, for your gift... from the sea. ... Read more

Reviews (44)

4-0 out of 5 stars Self-help without the jargon
This title was a recent selection for a book discussion group that I helped organize for my library. As the only male in the group, I felt somewhat compelled to offer token protest to the selection of this classic example of a "woman's book," but actually I was intrigued by it. Everything I had read about "Gift From the Sea" praised its meditative quality and I had to admit that the promise of that rather appealed to me.

I wound up reading the bulk of the book on Mothers' Day, which seemed quite appropriate, given that among the many issues Lindbergh addresses here is the need for mothers to find a balance between their own needs and those of their children and husbands. The need for time to one's self, a "room of one's own", the need for a spriritual dimension to one's existence--well, it seems so obvious that these needs have to be met if a woman--if any human being--is to be fulfilled and to be able to meet her (or his) responsibilities with joy rather than with dread. But the lessons that Anne Morrow Lindbergh taught in 1955 still need to be voiced in 2000--perhaps more than ever. Lindbergh seems prescient when she speaks of the dangers of the "life of multiplicity" which had already taken root in the immediate post-War era. We know all too well that it has not gotten any better in the past 50 years and that women's lives in particular have become more stressful and, to use Lindbergh's word, "fragmented" in the past half-century.

What distinguishes Lindbergh's book from today's current crop of self-help or New Age sprititual books though is its lyrical quality. Her careful, belletristic prose is soothing and, yes, meditative in and of itself. Reading it seems to bring about the very centeredness and balance that she seeks to describe.

Although she includes no bibliography (and rightly so, as this is not a tract), I would hope that many of her readers would be inspired to seek out the works of some of the writers she quotes in the context of these essays. She does the world a great service in suggesting how Rilke, for example, whose poetry may seem impenetrable at first, can actually speak to the concerns of our own lives.

5-0 out of 5 stars A true gem!!
I had no idea, when I found this book in a little beach bookstore recently, that it was written in 1955. Had I known, it probably would have dissuaded me from buying it. I now know how fortunate I am to have not known!

I believe that books, words and people come into our lives at the time they are most needed, and Gift from the Sea certainly fits that bill for me. While small bits of it may be dated, most of it speaks as clearly and truly to modern day woman as it would have to 1950s women. In fact, with so many women in search of their most authentic self these days, it may even be MORE relevant to today's woman! It is a delicate and thoughtful essay on solitude, couplehood, inner peace and the wonder of nature. I can't imagine anyone not being inspired and uplifted by reading it. Truly, a gift for the soul.

4-0 out of 5 stars Gifts From the Sea
Quila Mackinnon, a twelve-year-old girl, is just crushed by the death of her mother. Now she is only left with her father and the old light house on Devils Rock. Everyday, her father works in the light house while Quila cleans not only the house but the light house too. One morning Quila decided to go out onto Devils Rock. Breathing in the deep blue sea air was nice until she saw something. As she started down the large rocks, stepping onto the cold wet sand she remembered her father telling don't go down to the waves where they will take you away. Quila sat there shaking when suddenly yelled out, "Papa, Papa!" Her father came running out saying, "What is it?" "A baby Papa, I found a baby."
Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, the author, has a wonderful style of writing. I liked it because she used a lot of description and detail. She can tell in good times and show in good times as well. Find out if they keep the baby and what happens about having no mother!

Franny

5-0 out of 5 stars Five... Cinco... Cinq STARS*****
This is THE book for your feminine lifetime. It is not only a journey.... it's an adventure... and a healing. (+ reality check!)

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect gift for Moms
Even though this book was written in the 1950's, it's subject matter is as current and relevant as if it was written yesterday. This is a small, sensible, gem of a book on the often overwhelming and thankless task of being a wife and mother. No, it's not a feminist rant, just a realistic look at what it means to sacrifice yourself for others. This book would make the perfect gift for every mother with young children...trust me. ... Read more


37. Mistress Bradstreet : The Untold Life of America's First Poet
by Charlotte Gordon
list price: $27.95
our price: $19.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316169048
Catlog: Book (2005-03-23)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 10937
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

DESCRIPTION: An illuminating biography of Anne Bradstreet, the first writer--and the first bestseller--to emerge from the wilderness of the New World. Puritan Anne Bradstreet arrived in Massachusetts in 1630, 18 years old and newly married to Simon Bradstreet, the son of a minister. She was accompanied by her imperious father, Thomas Dudley, and a powerful clutch of Protestant dissenters whose descendants would become the founding fathers of the country. Bradstreetís story is a rich one, filled with drama and surprises, among them a passionate marriage, intellectual ferment, religious schisms, mortal illness, and Indian massacres. This is the story of a young woman and poet of great feeling struggling to unearth a language to describe the country in which she finds herself. And it also offers a rich and complex portrait of early America, the Puritans, and their trials and values; a legacy that continues to shape our country to the present day. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Thank you Charlotte Gordon!
I first discovered Anne Bradstreet as an undergraduate in the 1970's and fell in love with her work.Over the years I have researched her personal history in depth.Why is so little written about her, I wondered.Doesn't anyone else get it? Well, Charlotte Gordon gets it.
I read this book hungrily, delighted to have found a kindred spirit in Ms. Gordon.Her understanding of the spirit and times of this passionate Puritan are compelling.This is a must read for anyone seeking a better understanding of our Puritan ancestors. I disagree with the author on some details, mainly dates, but she paints the big picture skillfully.This one is definately worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lovely & Timely Biography!
Anne Bradstreet is virtually unknown--but not after this engrossing and well-researched biography!The author has carefully crafted a beautiful book about the life of this great woman of the early American days.A wonderful book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Modern Messages in an Important Historic Story
I LOVED this book and couldn't put it down - It traces the life and work of Anne Bradstreet, America's first poet, whose story carries a very modern message. "Mistress Bradstreet" is vital reading TODAY for several reasons: 1) it inspires any present-day American who is bent on holding on to their passion, voice, faith and family in times of great upheaval and change, and 2) It fills in missing chapters of history of those women leaders, creative thinkers, and pioneers who continue to shape the world. 3) Finally, Gordon's writing is gorgeous, combining the best of storytelling, biography and history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Adventure in Early America
This wonderful literary biography is an important contribution to the history of American literature and thought.Anne Bradstreet, a poet whose work I was only slightly familiar with, emerges as a vital, passionate, brave, and yet very human woman in this lively and well written biography.The biography reads like a novel as the author,Charlote Gordon,includes vivid images of early American life including hostile Indians, drunken sybarites, and scathingly judgemental Pilgrims.The reader learns about religious history, the Puritan movement, Anne's life events, the trials and tribulations she faced as a powerfully faithful and spiritual woman in England, the struggles and joys she faced as a wife and mother raising a family in primitive conditions in some of the first settlements in the New World.The biography is constructed with superb and lively scholarship. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is that Gordon, a poet herself, discovers Miss Bradstreet's inner feelings and thoughts by interpreting Anne's poetry.The reader gets to follow Anne's private world though Gordon's inciteful commentary.A must read for anyone interested in poetry, early American history, and adventure. ... Read more


38. Kiss Me Like a Stranger : My Search for Love and Art
by Gene Wilder
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031233706X
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 5965
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this personal book from the star of many beloved and classic film comedies -- from The Producers to Young Frankenstein, Blazing saddles to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory -- Gene Wilder writes about a side of his life the public hasn't seen on the screen.Kiss Me Like a Stranger is not an autobiography in the usual sense of the word, and it's certainly not another celebrity "tell-all." Instead, Wilder has chosen to write about resonant moments in his life, events that led him to an understanding of the art of acting, and -- more important -- to an understanding of how to give love to and receive love from a woman.

Wilder writes compellingly about the creative process on stage and screen, and divulges moments from life on the sets of some of the most iconic movies of our time.

In this book, he talks about everything from his experiences in psychoanalysis to why he got into acting and later comedy (his first goal was to be a Shakespearean actor), and how a Midwestern childhood with a sick mother changed him. Wilder explains why he became an actor and writer, and about the funny, wonderful movies he made with Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, and Harrison Ford, among many others. He candidly reveals his failures in love, and writes about the overwhelming experience of marrying comedienne Gilda Radner, as well as what finally had to happen for him to make a true and lasting commitment to another woman.

A thoughtful, revealing, and winsome book about life, love, and the creative process, Kiss Me Like A Stranger is one actor's life in his own words.
... Read more

Reviews (24)

3-0 out of 5 stars Many references to People & Places
Gene Wilder's "slightly autobiographical' book gives a little insight into his life as a boy ,his close friendship with his pyschiatist Margie, the "Demons" which burdened him as a young man via thoughts and his wife Gilda, his sister Corrine and his own bouts successful or otherwise with Cancer...In his case his joy on "I've won" when the treatments were decreased from a sceduled nine to only six, turned to gratitude when he let one of the physcians who'd treated Gilda before she "passed away", inform him of the need for more treatment...His book hints that his major stresses are due to his concerns of why he thinks the way he thinks whenever the thoughts that lead to certain behaviour don't make sense...In its own "not-heavy" reading way the book is quite thought- provoking.

3-0 out of 5 stars In defense of the book
I found it informative enough. I got a good sense of Gene Wilder's life story from the get go of my reading it. He lets quite a few pictures of himself in younger days tell his story of his life as well as words. BTW he doesn't mention Patrick McGoohan (his co-star in Silver Streak) so I guess nothing happened between the two in a mutual sense. Makes sense as McGoohan had zero chemistry with everyone in that film (Wilder included), McGoohan was just in it for the money and most likely made no friends on the set. I'd like to add that Wilder's bio is definitely largely true as well as what he says of his co-star and friend Richard Pryor is confirmed in Pryor's very own autobiography.

2-0 out of 5 stars Is he a Nice Person? Is he a Good Writer?
Judging from the previous reviews, some of the people who think very little of Wilder's "autobiography" were disappointed to find he was not the sweet, insightful and gentle man he's made his career portraying.Well, OK, me too.

But "Is he a nice person?" is a separate question from "Is this book any good?" and in my view the answer to both is "no."

Dorothy Parker once wrote about Isadora Duncan's autobiography that she wrote with frankness, but that "frankness" was no synonym for "honesty." Or insight, for that matter.

What a sloppy, silly, unintentionally revealing book! At the end we don't know why Wilder's relationship with his daughter ended, but we do know that once he was able to copulate three times in one night.

I could give more examples, but that kinda does it for me: this is a very self-absorbed man, so selfish and consuming that he just doesn't give a **** that we will find it out. In fact, he seems to think we WANT to know. He didn't HAVE to reveal these terrible things about himself.

A self-absorbed jerk can be found with no trouble; what makes Gene Wilder different is that he has been one of the funniest actors and writers ever. Naturally, if you're reading his book, you want to find out about his artistic path. But we don't find out much about how he writes, or why, how he survived auditions, what he gets from his work, do the people who knew him when he was Jerry Silberman still call him Jerry, what roles would he have __liked__ to play?

It's hard to fault him for his Gilda Radner comments; she herself knew she was difficult. His account of his relationship with Gildawas pretty much as she said in __It's Always Something__, except she apparently didn't know he started dating his current wife while Gilda was dying.Again: not a story of a nice person--but that in and of itself is not terrible.Unfortunately it was also not great writing.

I didn't mind that it wasn't funny because I wanted to know about the Person, not the Persona.All I know about him that I didn't know before is that I wouldn't want him dating into my family.

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy the Book!
People who think they know this man DON'T.He's a terrific person and his book is just great.Buy it and judge for yourself.

3-0 out of 5 stars I am Waiting for the Unauthorized Bio Later This Year
I have always loved Gene Wilder's work and have followed his career over the years.His memoir is entertaining and he is surprisingly honest about certain aspects of his private life, but I got the feeling that he was being selective in what he shared with the reader.There is an unauthorized Wilder biography being published around November of this year called "Gene Wilder: Funny and Sad" that supposedly is more analytical of Wilder's films and also reveals significant details about his personal life that he chose to omit from his own book.Wilder's book is good but I am waiting to read this other book which I feel will likely be more objective. ... Read more


39. On Writing
by Stephen King
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743455967
Catlog: Book (2002-07-01)
Publisher: Pocket
Sales Rank: 1777
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. ... Read more

Reviews (540)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ideas behind the words
"The story is the most important part of the story" could accurately sum up Stephen Kings book on writing.

The first half of the book is autobiographical. Stephen takes us through his childhood, discussing key events in his development as a person and a writer. This sets the context for the experiences he later writes about.

The second half is the "On Writing" part, where he gives advice to aspiring fiction writers. He covers technical aspects (be concise) as well as tips on the creative process (don't sweat the plot, create situations and be true to what the characters would do in them). He describes the process of writing as "finding a fossil" - the fossil of the story is out there, use the most subtle tools out there to share the fossil.

At the end, Steve covers his current status and recovery from a near death experience at the hands of an errant van driver. Perhaps this is the most touching part of the story.

This book does capture some very useful nuggets of information, and will be especially useful to avid king readers. In that sense, it isn't just a trade book for writers. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and practical book for writers
I read this book - my first by Stephen King - after noticing a lot of favorable reviews, and I really liked it. This book has been highly recommended in many different forums for young, aspiring writers, and I can see the reason why.

While the first half of the book is autobiographical, dealing with events that made Stephen King the type of writer he is; the second half deals almost exclusively with King's insights and suggestions on the craft of writing - from vocabulary, grammar, editing, etc., to the nuances of dialogue, description, and narration. Unlike many books dealing with the art of writing, this book has a friendlier, almost intimate approach, and King uses numerous examples from his own work and that of other writers to illustrate his points. Two of the best pieces of advice in this book are: "Write with your door closed, re-write with your door open", and "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write".

This is a very inspiring and motivating book for anyone interested in writing. King himself never stopped writing, no matter what the circumstances - the abject poverty of the early part of his life, or the excruciating pain as a result of the life threatening accident - and that is the biggest lesson in this book for writers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Like a school book, but way more fun!
Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is probably the best advice book you're goin to get.
It has three parts:
(1)An account on his younger life, and why he thinks he came to be the type of writer she is today.
(2)The second part is an absolutely fantastic account on writing. He runs you through Plot Development, Character development, different types of plot eg: Story/Situation, advice on Literary Agents, submitting short-stories to magazines etc etc etc...
(3)And the last 60 pages or so is an account on the horrifying accident he had in 1999 in Maine. He walks through it in detail.

As an aspiring writer myself, I found this book classic. When I think back to before, when I didnt read it - and was writing myself - If found that I really needed it.

So, for anyone who wants to know the low-down on becoming a successful writer, buy the book; for anyone who is a fan this is a must, you will read exciteing stories about his childhood and later life, and read the explicit chapter on his horrible accident.
King, at his best. :-)(-:

5-0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Stephen King ¿ On Writing
Book Review: Stephen King - On Writing

I enjoyed the first half of the book for the humorous lighthearted approaches Steve takes to his life. One inspiring moment would not leave my mind. I wish that I had one in my own life as significant. As a young boy Steve copied the works of his favorite comic and showed the result to his mother. "Write one of your own, Stevie," she said. WOW! Obviously the seed of a writer was already planted but what fertilizer was that moment in Stephen King's life. Permission to write came at a very significant age. So many writers struggle to give themselves permission to write. A comment like this reminds me how influential a parent is to their child. Imagine what may have become of Steve had his mother been a different woman.

Other enjoyable moments involved poison ivy, a rather naughty school distribution and Steve's bleak telling of his drug and alcohol abuse. With the latter I sat wondering at Stephen's courage. Not just to relate these facts openly and honestly to his readers, but also to step beyond his dependency and hope, perhaps pray, that his writing did not come from the altered state. Some of his readers would see Steve in a darker light when realizing he is a former addict. I know that my image of Stephen changed. I saw in him honor, courage and a great strength to overcome. I admire him for stepping through the fear I can only imagine he must have felt and coming past it into real living. May we all learn from his experience.

When I reached the middle of Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir", I could not help but notice the very distinct change of voice between the first section and the second. I wondered how the light hearted man, who wrote about living life even through some very hard moments, could possibly be the same man who wrote in stilted lament. I read feeling rather resentful of the attitude I felt coming from the pages. I wondered how he dared imply that the way he did things was the only way to do them. I was particularly flummoxed at the parts where Steve speaks of plot and how no writer should ever use plot, story is the key element. I agree, story is key, but my current novel is laid out perfectly on a large board with every little plot nuance decided. Of course since I am suffering a serious writer's block with that novel perhaps Steve has merit when he speaks of plotting and the damage it can do to story.

Beyond that single disagreement I found Steve spoke to the readers of "On Writing" with integral truth. He spoke fact, but somehow in the second half of the book there seemed a lot less joy. It is only when I reached the postscript I realized why the two halves of one book seemed so different. You may notice the significance of change yourself when you read this book and you will find as I did that there is an rather extreme reasoning for it. Right where the voice changed is the eighteen months where Steve had been recuperating after being hit by a Dodge van. This life-changing event very obviously changed his sense of self and ultimately his voice, his writing.

The second half of the book involves a lot of helpful advice, but personally I felt that a writer would find the first half much more inspiring. The second half answers questions you might have, but the answers are only helpful if you write in the same way Steve writes. Every writer does things their own way and while you can take his words and mince them in your own mind and heart into something of your own, if you attempt to copy his routine exactly you will loose your self. He admits this also and I thank him for once again being so honest. The second half of the book offers a great deal to aspiring writers but I feel the first half offered twice that again.

Overall this book is a wonderful read for all writers and entertaining for non-writers. I freely admit that I have never read another of Stephen King's books but having read this one I am itching to read some of his fiction. He has a fluid hand that is a delight to read. I did find the profanity scattered across the book grating, but he has a section where he speaks of that also. It says a lot about who Stephen is and how he was raised. The entire book opens him up for readers to really know him, and that is a true connection of minds that shouts the truth he shares of writer's telepathy.

Despite all he has suffered in life Stephen comes out a stronger man. In "On Writing" he offers aspiring writers a wealth of advice the most significant being, "Read a lot, Write a lot." You can only learn your subject by immersing yourself in it and as with all artistic desire to reach perfection the Carnegie hall anecdote comes to mine, "Practice, practice, practice". Thank you, Stephen King, for sharing yourself with me. I am a better person and hopefully a better writer because of your candor.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith

5-0 out of 5 stars Helpful and Entertaining
I read this book while in the middle of editing a book for publication. It reminded me of many things I had either forgotten (from my days of working with the Chicago Manual of Style or The Elements of Style) and suddenly, my red pen used A LOT more ink.

A highly entertaining read, I recommend for all serious writers. Take a few tips from a true master of the craft.

From the author of I'm Living Your Dream Life and The Things I Wish I'd Said, McKenna Publishing Group ... Read more


40. Tori Amos:Piece by Piece
by TORI AMOS, ANN POWERS
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076791676X
Catlog: Book (2005-02-08)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 18383
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