Monday, October 10, 2011

More great stories from the celebrity world

Bossypants by Tina Fey

From Barnes & Noble

In her acceptance speech for Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Tina Fey announced that she was proud to make her home in "the 'not-real America'." It is perhaps that healthy sense of incongruity that makes the head writer, executive producer, and star of NBC's Emmy Award-winning 30 Rock such a cogent observer of the contemporary scene. Bossypants, her entertaining new memoir, shows that strangeness has been her constant companion. Fey's stories about her childhood in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania are only appetizers for LOL forays into her college disasters, honeymoon catastrophes, and Saturday Night Live shenanigans. Most funny read of the month; the best possible weekend update.

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler

From Barnes & Noble

Steven Tyler once protested that he's just a country boy, but nobody this side of sanity would mistake this Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer and legendary Aerosmith frontman for a farmer. Born in Yonkers as Stephen Victor Tallarico, this son of a classical musician and pianist really began to blossom after he and his fledgling band moved to Boston in 1970. For decades thereafter, Tyler full-out performances onstage and off have captured fans' imaginations. Clearly, he meant it when he famously asserted, "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing." In this richly vivid "rock 'n' roll memoir," the popular American Idol judge unfurls "all the unexpurgated, brain-jangling tales of debauchery, sex & drugs, transcendence & chemical dependence you will ever want to hear."

Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank by Barbara Sinatra

Kirkus Reviews

Glamorous days and nights in a privileged bubble with the Chairman of the Board.

Sinatra's memoir begins engagingly, as the former Barbara Ann Blakeley recalls her hardscrabble Midwestern childhood, her early modeling career in California and her showgirl days in Vegas, where she first encountered Frank and his Rat Pack. The author details her bumpy marriage to Zeppo Marx, who introduced her to the leisurely life in Palm Springs, where Frank was a neighbor. Flirtation with the singer, then in the midst of a brief early-'70s "retirement," turned into an affair after an assignation in Monaco, depicted here with admirable honesty. Unfortunately, after recounting Frank's ardent courtship, her divorce from Marx and a protracted march to the altar (finally triggered by Barbara's ultimatum) in 1976, the book turns breathless and the prose gets mauve. The author drops big names by the dozen, recalling an endless whirl of globetrotting concert appearances, charity events, lavish dinners and late-night hijinks. She also catalogs every glittering Cartier bauble the singer ever purchased for her. Though she considers Frank's hot temper, pugnacity and oft-boorish behavior, the author dutifully soft-pedals his worst transgressions and sidesteps the sensational elements. Sinatra's dealings with mobsters are foisted off on his late pal Jilly Rizzo, while the shadowy connections of fixer Sidney Korshak are left unmentioned. However, the author is unable to resist a dig at former First Lady Nancy Reagan, whose relationship with Sinatra was much whispered about. After a couple hundred pages of rapturous encomia, the book gains some force in the late going as Sinatra's increasing infirmity and death in 1998 are poignantly delineated. Ultimately, readers learn little about the complex inner workings of the driven, very private entertainer.

A sometimes diverting and funny yet unsatisfying book about what it was like to be, in the writer's words, "the luckiest girl alive."

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe

Kirkus Reviews

Lowe presents a well-modulated actor's memoir.

Whatever readers' impressions of the actor, he understands them: "There is just no way anyone is likely to take a nineteen-year-old as pretty as I was seriously," he writes. "Even I wouldn't...People looked at me and made a judgment. It's the way of the world. I do it too, sometimes." Lowe doesn't strain to be taken seriously here, though neither does he follow the kiss-and-tell conventions of the actor's memoir nor the descent into hell of the recovering alcoholic's. Instead, Lowe presents himself as a Midwestern guy very much aware that he won the genetic lottery; who became obsessed with acting at a young age as an escape from his dysfunctional family; enjoyed (mainly) the perks that came with his emergence as a teenage pinup; suffered career reversals that let him (and the reader) know just how little control an actor sometimes has; and ultimately found serenity as a devoted husband and father: "(I'm) like most American men. In love with my wife, living in a normal town, and blessed beyond imagining with two precious, beautiful, and inspiring babies." The author goes into great detail about the making ofThe Outsiders, St. Elmo's Fire, About Last Nightand The West Wing,reinforcing the impression that his acting credits don't come close to matching the level of his celebrity. Lowe is discrete about his romantic relationships and the extent of his partying with what would be dubbed the "Brat Pack," opting instead for understatement (e.g., "Charlie Sheen is also one of a kind") or general appreciation ("Jodie Foster should be any actor's role model. She is certainly mine"). He treats the infamous sex tape that all but derailed his career so obliquely that the rare reader not aware of it will have little idea what he's talking about.

Lowe writes, "I...genuinely like people." His memoir will make readers believe him—and like him back.

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