Monday, May 16, 2011

Bestselling Biographies beats boredom

All My Life: A Memoir by Susan Lucci

From the Publisher-

When Susan Lucci and All My Children were introduced to the world in 1971, American television changed forever. Susan's character, the beautiful, spirited, and mercurial Erica Kane, was an original. But while millions have enjoyed getting to know Erica's many sides, the woman who plays her has remained a mystery.
In her long-awaited memoir, this very private entertainment icon pulls back the curtain to reveal her own story. Warm, candid, and inviting, All My Life chronicles Susan's journey from her childhood to playing Erica Kane and from finding true love to living that "Cinderella moment" when she finally won her Emmy®.
As charming, down-to-earth, and compelling as the woman whose story it tells, All My Life reminds us of the power of dreams and how we can all find the courage and tenacity to make them come true.

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Publishers Weekly

Owner and chef of New York's Prune restaurant, Hamilton also happens to be a trained writer (M.F.A., University of Michigan) and fashions an addictive memoir of her unorthodox trajectory to becoming a chef. The youngest of five siblings born to a French mother who cooked "tails, claws, and marrow-filled bones" in a good skirt, high heels, and apron, and an artist father who made the sets for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Hamilton spent her early years in a vast old house on the rural Pennsylvania New Jersey border. With the divorce of her parents when she was an adolescent, the author was largely left to her own devices, working at odd jobs in restaurants. Peeling potatoes and scraping plates—"And that, just like that, is how a whole life can start." At age 16, in 1981, she got a job waiting tables at New York's Lone Star Cafe, and when caught stealing another waitress's check, she was nearly charged with grand larceny. After years of working as a "grunt" freelance caterer and going back to school to learn to write (inspired by a National Book Foundation conference she was catering), Hamilton unexpectedly started up her no-nonsense, comfort-food Prune in a charming space in the East Village in 1999. Hamilton can be refreshingly thorny (especially when it comes to her reluctance to embrace the "foodie" world), yet she is also as frank and unpretentious as her menu—and speaks openly about marrying an Italian man (despite being a lesbian), mostly to cook with his priceless Old World mother in Italy.

In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything by Michael Waltrip, Ellis Henican

Library Journal

The 2001 Daytona 500 race is remembered for NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash. The winner, Michael Waltrip, had not won in 462 attempts and should have been ecstatic. But Earnhardt had been Waltrip's employer, close friend, and mentor. Waltrip's devastation was so intense that he avoided talking about that fateful day for years. Now he brings to light those suppressed issues and shines a spotlight on the Dale Earnhardt he knew and revered. Waltrip's narrative spans a lifetime's involvement with auto racing as a fan, driver, car owner, and younger sibling to one of NASCAR's most successful drivers, Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip reveals much about the motivations and values that fueled and sustained his life and career, offering a number of life lessons he learned from mentors, both friends and family. The subtext of the book, though, is Earnhardt and his significant impact on Waltrip's career and life. VERDICT There are many stories here that Earnhardt fans will appreciate and that will no doubt add to Earnhardt's legacy. Written in the breezy, conversational style expected from Waltrip, this is an entertaining and rewarding read. Solidly recommended for popular racing collections.—David Van de Streek, Penn State Univ. Libs., York

Townie: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III

Publishers Weekly

Long before he became the highly acclaimed author of House of Sand and Fog, Dubus shuffled and punched his way through a childhood and youth full of dysfunction, desperation, and determination. Just after he turned 12, Dubus’s family fell rapidly into shambles after his father—the prominent writer Andre Dubus—not only left his wife for a younger woman but also left the family in distressing poverty on the violent and drug-infested side of their Massachusetts mill town. For a few years, Dubus escaped into drugs, embracing the apathetic “no-way-out” attitude of his friends. After having his bike stolen, being slapped around by some of the town’s bullies, and watching his brother and mother humiliated by some of the town’s thugs, Dubus started lifting weights at home and boxing at the local gym. Modeling himself on the Walking Tall sheriff, Buford Pusser, Dubus paid back acts of physical violence with physical violence. Ultimately, he decided to take up his pen and write his way up from the bottom and into a new relationship with his father. In this gritty and gripping memoir, Dubus bares his soul in stunning and page-turning prose.

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