One-Minute Book Reviews

July 26, 2010

Wendy Holden’s Novel ‘Beautiful People’ — Trouble in Tuscany

Filed under: Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 6:26 pm
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Beautiful People. By Wendy Holden. Sourcebooks Landmark, 420 pp., $14.99, paperback.

By Janice Harayda

Wendy Holden’s ninth novel shows little of the satirical verve on display in her Farm Fatale and Bad Heir Day, both as fizzy and delicious as a Kir Royale. Beautiful People resembles a conventional wine from the Tuscan hills, the setting for the working-out of the romantic and professional dilemmas of its three heroines – a kind Yorkshire-bred nanny, a London-based actress from a theatrical dynasty similar to the Redgraves, and an apparently American film star whose career is tanking.

Holden serves up few savory bits for star-gazers in this international romp: Did you know that Madonna has outwitted paparazzi by wearing the same black tracksuit for three years while jogging to “make the pictures look the same as they had for the last three years and render the image unsellable”? Or that David Bowie hides in plain sight on the Underground by wearing cheap sunglasses and reading a Turkish newspaper?

But Holden drags her plot sideways by beginning her novel with a chapter on sub-lead characters, and she never quite gets it back on a fast, straight track. And even the keenest fans of her much-admired gift for wordplay may wonder: Did she really intend have two characters whose names are variations on the word “cockroach”?

Best line: “Mitch still had no idea why Belle’s studio had imagined that a film about an uptight, pyromaniac, religious nutcase was a suitable vehicle for her.” This line comes closer than any other to having the over-the-top flair that made Holden’s early novels so appealing.

Worst line: No. 1: “It takes a lot of money to look that cheap.” If you’re going to reheat a line Dolly Parton has been using for years, if not decades, doesn’t she deserve a credit? No. 2: “there were iPod earphones curling around his neck.” In the U.S., they’re called ear buds. The term may be different in Britain, where Holden lives, but if not, anybody who is writing about style-setters needs to get details like this right.

Published: April 2010

Conflict alert: Sourcebooks published my second novel, Manhattan on the Rocks.

About the author: Holden lives in England, where her novels has appeared repeatedly on best-seller lists.

Read excerpts from Beautiful People and other novels by Holden.

Furthermore: A review of Holden’s entertaining Bad Heir Day appeared on this site Dec. 19, 2006, in a post that also had comments on her Farm Fatale and Simply Divine.

Janice Harayda is an award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour and the book editor of the Plain Dealer. You can also follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

March 16, 2010

Fake Book News #8 — Lindsay Lohan Sues Amazon

Filed under: Fake Book News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:05 am
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Lindsay Lohan sues Amazon for selling bio of dead NYC Mayor John Lindsay, saying people associate “Lindsay” with her. http://bit.ly/LinSUIT

Fake Book News posts on One-Minute Book Reviews satirize American literary culture, including the publishing industry. They consist of some of the most popular of the made-up news items that appear on Janice Harayda’s FakeBookNews page on Twitter. To read all the tweets in the series, please follow FakeBookNews (@FakeBookNews) on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FakeBookNews.

March 7, 2010

New Yorker Film Critic Anthony Lane on Oscar-Night Clothes — ‘The Men Always Let Their Ladies Down …’

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:34 am
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Film critic Anthony Lane writes of the 1996 Oscar ceremony in an article reprinted in Nobody’s Perfect: Writings From The New Yorker (Vintage, 2002):

“We saw a fine parade of Empire lines and silk sheaths, and by far the most impressive array of natural greens since Linda Blair showed off the highlights of her supper in The Exorcist. There was peppermint, aquamarine, verdigris, iceberg, eau-de-nil, and a lemon-and-lime special from Marc Winningham. There were pinkish grays so soft and subtle that onlookers were reminded of the furring found on unclean kettles. Then there was Susan Sarandon’s Dolce & Gabbana ball gown, a sort of one-night stand between chocolate and bronze; it exactly matched the hue of her hair, though which came first was a matter of urgent debate.

“She was accompanied by Tim Robbins, whose jacket was scaly, sharkish, and distressingly similar to what he wore last year. How can a guy of such evident sense, whose movies are a rebuff to bad glitz, opt on an annual basis for a garment that was apparently woven overnight from a few strands of crude oil? The men always let their ladies down on Oscar night. Hollywood is essentially unable to grasp that the great advantage of a dinner jacket is that it is, in essence, a uniform. The basics are unwavering, the variations minimal. When you are asked to wear black tie, do not take this as a concealed excuse not to wear black tie. Do not be tempted by the current fad that omits the tie altogether in favor of a single black stud. You may find this sexy, but to the watching world it appears that you have leapt up from an emergency tracheotomy to attend the show.”

February 25, 2010

2010 Delete Key Awards Finalist #3 — Clarence Clemons and Don Reo’s ‘Big Man’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:14 pm
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From Clarence Clemons and Don Reo’s Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales (Grand Central):

“Clarence thought about a girl he knew in high school, then about a song he used to play, then about the house he grew up in back in Virginia, then about a street in Paris, then about a room he stayed in once in San Francisco, then about a painting of a child and a dog sitting on a pier, then about a bottle of wine he especially enjoyed at a restaurant in New York or maybe Boston with its gardens and grown-up houses ad tress along the river and pizza in the North End and a car, his first car, a ’62 Chevy, a burgundy convertible; and he thought about all the people who died and he thought about death itself and how his was coming someday and how scared he would be to stop living and lose it all and slip into that great blackness and would it hurt and for how long; and he thought about the endless rush of time and color and sound as he moved down the corridor like at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, where that guy is in the room where you’re young and you’re old and you’re young and you’re old again; and he thought about his mother and his father and his children of God and about Heaven and who would be there and would there be awkward moments like when Jackie O runs into Marilyn, and he wondered why ghosts are always wearing clothes and did that mean that shirts and pants existed after death, too; and he thought about all the things he didn’t do that he said he would, the broken promises, the broken hears, the fragments of regret scattered around all his rooms, all his days; and he thought about the rain, the soft, steady kind, the deep, soaking rain that strangely brought him comfort on the days that said that the sun would never come out again, and the rain would wash him clean if he stood in it and opened his arms to it and turned his face to the dark, weeping sky and allowed it to soak into his soul and make him one with the rain, part of it, lost in it where there was no pain and no memory and no regret, a place of peace and quiet, a place beyond hope, beyond redemption, beyond death.”

The E Street Band might still be playing in Asbury Park dives if the group had given the world the musical equivalent of this 397-word jawbreaker from its popular saxophonist and sideman for Bruce Springsteen. “Long” doesn’t equal “profound.”

Read the New York Times review of Big Man

The Delete Key Awards are being announced in random order but numbered for convenience. This is finalist No. 3. You can also read about the Delete Key Awards on Janice Harayda’s page (@janiceharayda) on Twitter. The winner and runners up will be announced March 15 on One-Minute Book Reviews and on Janice Harayda’s page (@janiceharayda) on Twitter.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

2010 Delete Key Awards Finalist #7B ‘Mommywood’ by Tori Spelling with Hilary Liftin

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:05 pm
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From Tori Spelling’s Mommywood (Simon Spotlight), written with Hilary Liftin, in which Spelling writes of a day when her son had an accident at a pool:

“Either you know this already or it’s too much information, but swim diapers aren’t rigged quite the same way as normal diapers are. Swim diapers have a tough job. They have to keep in whatever comes out. Without them, babies would put the ‘poo’ in ‘pool.’ So they don’t have convenient Velcro openings. You can’t just untape, wipe, and be done with it. Instead they’re like little pants. The load is kind of trapped in there. Good news for the other swimmers, but once I had Liam in my arms, I had no idea how to get that swim diaper off while adequately containing its contents. That is to say, I feared the poop. …



“I laid Liam down on his towel. I pulled off the swim diaper. Again, either you know this already or it’s too much information, but when poo is exposed to that environment (pool water, a sopping swim diaper, a hyper child – the trifecta), it loses its structural integrity. There was no … cohesion. Just crumbles of poo everywhere. A horror show. I went in for the kill, but a few swipes later I was out of wipes and still facing an insurmountable mess. I swear, there was actually more there than when I started.”
You’re right, Tori: Way too much information.

Read the full review of Mommywood. Tori’s mother, Candy Spelling, is also a 2010 Delete Key Awards finalist. This is the first time two members of a family have made the shortlist in the same year.

The Delete Key Awards are being named in random order, beginning with No. 10, but numbered for convenience. This is finalist No. 7B, which tied with No. 7A, Tori Spelling’s Mommywood, for this spot. The winner and runners-up will be announced on March 15 on One-Minute Book Reviews and Janice Harayda’s Twitter page (@janiceharayda) at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

2010 Delete Key Awards Finalist #7A (tie) – ‘Stories From Candyland’ by Candy Spelling

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:16 pm
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Candy Spelling’s Stories From Candyland tied with Tori Spelling’s Mommywood for this spot on the shortlist.

From Candy Spelling’s Stories From Candyland (St. Martin’s), a memoir of her life with Dynasty producer Aaron Spelling:

“There’s a big celebrity culture that you’d have to be here in L.A. to truly understand.”
Unless your supermarket sells the National Enquirer.

“Celebrities get way too much attention and credit, but they certainly sell movies, music, products, and entertainment.”
The way to fix that is by writing a memoir about your famous family and your celebrity friends?

“Being a celebrity, knowing celebrities, working with celebrities, writing about celebrities, feeding celebrities, repairing celebrity cars, and photographing celebrities – these are just some of the elements of our local economy. There is no end to the public’s fascinating with all things (and people) celebrity.”
Enough word-repetition for an early reader called Dick and Jane Go to Hollywood.

Read the full review of Stories From Candyland.

The 10 Delete Key Awards finalists are being named in random order, beginning with No. 10, but numbered for convenience. This is finalist No. 7A, which tied with finalist No. 7B, Tori Spelling’s Mommywood, for this spot. You can also read about the Delete Key Awards on Janice Harayda’s page (@janiceharayda) on Twitter. The grand prize winner and runners-up will be announced on March 15 on One-Minute Book Reviews and on Twitter. 

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

 

February 15, 2010

Candy Spelling Sets the Record Straight in ‘Stories From Candyland’ – She Doesn’t Have a Gift-Wrapping Room: She Has Three of Them

Filed under: Biography,Memoirs — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:20 am
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Inside the mansion of a Hollywood widow and pack rat

Stories From Candyland. By Candy Spelling. St. Martin’s, 247 pp., $25.95.

By Janice Harayda

“Things might have been a lot different if my parents had encouraged me to write rather than fold napkins,” Candy Spelling says in this memoir of her 38-year marriage to Aaron Spelling, producer of Dynasty and Beverly Hills 90210. You can say that again. If her parents had valued writing, we might not have had a book padded with prosaic recipes, friends’ mawkish praise  for  Spelling’s “beauty and kindness,” and an alphabetized, three-page list of 69 things she collects, including “Dresden butter pats, Erotic figurines, Etiquette books, Fine arts books on master jewelry designers, First-edition books (including Mark Twain), Flower picture books, Gold presentation boxes” and Herend hand-painted characters and figurines.”

'Celebrities get way too much attention and credit,' Hollywood widow Candy Spelling says.

Stories From Candyland leaks such Styrofoam peanuts until it brings to mind the critic A.O. Scott’s description of Leap Year as “a movie only in a strictly technical sense.” Spelling casts herself as a victim of misrepresentations spread by her actress daughter, Tori, and professes not to understand them: “I’m not sure what Tori means when she says our relationship is complicated. I wish she would call me …” But the telephone works both ways. And Spelling doesn’t make up for all her omissions and special pleading with glimpses of her famous Los Angeles mansion. Perhaps the biggest revelation in this book is that contrary to reports that the Manor has a dedicated gift-wrapping room, it actually has three of them.

Best line: “I live in a place where the tabloid newspapers and TV shows run ads aimed a medical office receptionists, waiters, grocery baggers, and parking valets, offering them money for ‘confidential celebrity information’ they might have overheard.”

Worst line: No. 1: “And then, suddenly, there he was. Rock Hudson! He was tall, dark, and handsome, just like the magazines said he was.” No. 2: “Celebrities get way too much attention and credit, but they certainly sell movies, music, products, and entertainment.” No. 3: “There’s a big celebrity culture that you’d have to be here in L.A. to truly understand.” No. 4: “Being a celebrity, knowing celebrities, working with celebrities, writing about celebrities, feeding celebrities, repairing celebrity cars, and photographing celebrities – these are just some of the elements of our local economy. There is no end to the public’s fascinating with all things (and people) celebrity.”

Published: March 2009 (hardcover). Paperback due out in March 2010.

Furthermore: News reports that have appeared since the publication of this book suggest that Candy and Tori spelling have mended their fences.

Janice Harayda satirizes American literary culture, such as it is, on her FakeBookNews page on Twitter www.twitter.com/FakeBookNews.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

February 14, 2010

Tomorrow — A Hollywood Memoir, ‘Stories From Candyland’

Filed under: Memoirs,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 6:48 pm
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“Celebrities get way too much attention and credit,” says Candy Spelling, the widow of the producer Aaron Spelling and the mother the actress Tori Spelling. Should we respond by skipping her memoir? A review of Spelling’s Stories from Candyland will appear tomorrow on One-Minute Book Reviews.

October 13, 2009

Tori Spelling’s Hollywood Memoir, ‘Mommywood’ – ‘Dean and I Have Sex Three to Four Times a Week!’

Guests brought gay-themed gifts to a baby shower for her son, Liam

Mommywood. By Tori Spelling with Hilary Liftin. Simon Spotlight, 243 pp., $25.

By Janice Harayda

Tori Spelling once wore a Marie Antoinette Halloween costume custom-made by Nolan Miller, the designer for Dynasty and other televisions show produced by her father, Aaron Spelling. In a sense, the media have never allowed her to take it off.

Spelling has been guillotined by tabloids and others for a tumbrel of offenses — her nose job, her feud with her mother, her breast-augmentation surgery, her acting on Beverly Hills, 90210, her appearances with her husband on the reality show Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. “I’m cocktail party joke material,” she says in Mommywood, the follow-up to her bestselling memoir, sTORI telling.

Spelling’s new book describes her efforts to give her two young children what she calls a more “normal” childhood than she had. An example of normal in Hollywood occurred when she became pregnant with her son, Liam, and her gay friends worried that her firstborn would be “too straight to hang out” with them.

“In hopes of being an early influence, lots of my friend gave me gay-themed gifts at my baby shower,” Spelling writes. “A pink onesie saying ‘My boyfriend’s out of town for the weekend.’ A rock T-shirt saying ‘Queen’ (as in the band).”

Another example of “normal”: Spelling worked her pregnancy into her reality show and took her son on an international media tour when he was two months old. Some of the stories that resulted are perversely entertaining. But Mommywood as a whole is a self-indulgent font of evidence of Spelling’s insecurities and questionable judgment. And that especially applies to its criticisms of her mother, Candy Spelling, who has given different versions of some of the events in this book to the media. If you want your children to grow up unwarped by Hollywood, will it help to write a book keeps taking swipes at their grandmother?

Best line: “I grew up in a house with a driveway that was so long I can’t remember ever walking to the bottom of it.”

Worst line: No. 1: “Now I have two children of my own and I want them to have a normal childhood.” This comes from someone who took her son on a media tour when he was two months old. No. 2: “Dean and I were sitting around a table with some producers from our show. We were talking about sex after babies, and one of the other married men at the table said, ‘What sex life after kids?’ Dean and I have sex three to four times a week!” No. 3: Spelling writes of the day her son had an accident at a pool: “Either you know this already or it’s too much information, but swim diapers aren’t rigged quite the same way as normal diapers are. Swim diapers have a tough job. They have to keep in whatever comes out. Without them, babies would put the ‘poo’ in ‘pool.’ So they don’t have convenient Velcro openings. You can’t just untape, wipe, and be done with it. Instead they’re like little pants. The load is kind of trapped in there. Good news for the other swimmers, but once I had Liam in my arms, I had no idea how to get that swim diaper off while adequately containing its contents. That is to say, I feared the poop. …
“I laid Liam down on his towel. I pulled off the swim diaper. Again, either you know this already or it’s too much information, but when poo is exposed to that environment (pool water, a sopping swim diaper, a hyper child – the trifecta), it loses its structural integrity. There was no … cohesion. Just crumbles of poo everywhere. A horror show.
“I went in for the kill, but a few swipes later I was out of wipes and still facing an insurmountable mess. I swear, there was actually more there than when I started.”

Published: February 2009

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

September 7, 2009

‘Well-Known Name’ Asks for $1,000 to Blurb a Book, Author Claims

A potential blurber seeks cash for his labors …

A “well-known name” asked for a $1,000 “honorarium” to give a blurb for a book, author David Macaray claims on the site for the Poynter Institute, the Florida school and resource center for journalists.

Horse-trading has existed in blurbing for as long as I’ve been following the publishing industry, and I’ve posted examples in the “Backscratching in Our Time” series on this site.  But until now I haven’t heard of anyone asking for cash for praise for a comment that would appear on the dust-jacket of a book or elsewhere — which isn’t to say it it hasn’t happened. A hat tip to Bill Williams for letting me know about this one.

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