Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The lives of those well known names can be found @ your library

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

Kirkus Reviews -

New Yorker staff writer Orlean (My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere, 2004, etc.) follows the long and curious trail of the celebrity dog born on a World War I battlefield.

The author, who has written a cookbook for dogs (Throw Me a Bone, 2007) and about obsessiveness (The Orchid Thief, 1999), combines all her skills and passions in this astonishing story of Lee Duncan (1893–1960), a young American soldier and dog-lover who found the German shepherd puppy that became Rin Tin Tin (Rinty) in France, got the dog home and spent the rest of his life training and promoting Rinty, breeding other German shepherds and living with the belief of Rinty's immortality. (Rinty XI now lives in Oklahoma.) Orlean—who belongs to the generation that remembers the cry "Yo ho, Rinty!" from the popularThe Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin, which premiered in 1954 and ran for 164 episodes—recalls that her grandfather kept on his desk a little Rinty figure. But the author is not interested only in the dog. She also provides the biography of Duncan, as well as Bert Leonard, writer and producer, and she includes interviews with Duncan's daughter, the current keeper of the latest Rinty and scores of others. The author tells the story of silent films (where Rinty began his career), the transition to talkies and to color, the rise of television, the popularity of dog ownership in America (especially of German shepherds and collies—because of Lassie) and the evolving tastes of American youth. Foryears, Orlean chased Rinty—even to his grave in Paris—and by the end, began to question her sanity.

Although occasionally excessive in its claims for the ultimate significance of it all, a terrific dog's tale that will make readers sit up and beg for more.

Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Kirkus Reviews -

The doyenne of afternoon comedy returns with more quirky reflections on life.

The author's latest comes eight years after her last bestselling collection of humorous musings (The Funny Thing Is..., 2003, etc.), as well as after one wildly successful talk show, a brief stint onAmerican Idol and the founding of a record label. While the present work largely represents more of the same from DeGeneres, fans will not be disappointed. This hodgepodge of self-help tips, adult(ish) stories, coloring-book pages for children of all ages and one hilarious haiku—"Haiku sounds like I'm / saying hi to someone named / Ku. Hi, Ku. Hello."—displays throughout the author's gift for capturing the absurd hilarity of internal monologue. As such, readers will expect the audiobook edition to amplify the humor of some of these vignettes that, on the page, elicit little more than quiet smirks. Many of the passages, like her advice on "How to Be a Supermodel"—"Get those lips out there. Purse your lips like you're trying to sip out of a straw that someone keeps moving away from you...Be mysterious. Always pose with one hand in your pocket as if to say, 'I'm so mysterious, this hand in my pocket could be a hook hand. You don't know' "—deliver their comedic punch unaided. One of the more refreshing aspects of this miscellany is DeGeneres' inclusion of her spouse, Portia de Rossi, whom she admires and gently chides as any partner might—e.g., her critique of de Rossi's lotion mania: "Each kind says it has something special in it for your skin—aloe, shea butter, coconut, cocoa butter, vanilla, lemon extract. That's not lotion. That's one ingredient short of a Bundt cake."

Though DeGeneres doesn't provide many laugh-out-loud moments, her trademark wit and openness shine through.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Kirkus Reviews –

An unforgettable tale of a one-of-a-kind visionary.

With a unique ability to meld arts and technology and an uncanny understanding of consumers' desires, Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) played a major role in transforming not just computer technology, but a variety of industries. When Jobs died earlier this month, the outpouring of emotion from the general public was surprisingly intense. His creations, which he knew we wanted before we did, were more than mere tools; everything from the iPod to the MacBook Pro touched us on a gut level and became an integral part of our lives. This was why those of us who were hip to Steve Jobs the Inventor were so moved when he passed. However, those who had an in-depth knowledge of Steve Jobs the Businessman might not have taken such a nostalgic view of his life. According to acclaimed biographer and Aspen Institute CEO Isaacson (American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and a Heroes of a Hurricane, 2009, etc.) in this consistently engaging, warts-and-all biography, Jobs was not necessarily the most pleasant boss. We learn about Jobs' predilection for humiliating his co-workers into their best performances; his habit of profanely dismissing an underling's idea, only to claim it as his own later; and his ability to manipulate a situation with an evangelical, fact-mangling technique that friends and foes alike referred to as his "reality distortion field." But we also learn how—through his alternative education, his pilgrimage to India, a heap of acid trips and a fateful meeting with engineering genius Steve Wozniak—Jobs became Jobs and Apple became Apple. Though the narrative could have used a tighter edit in a few places, Isaacson's portrait of this complex, often unlikable genius is, to quote Jobs, insanely great.

Jobs was an American original, and Isaacson's impeccably researched, vibrant biography—fully endorsed by his subject—does his legacy proud.

The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, a Widow's New Life by Stephanie Madoff Mack
From the Publisher –

An explosive, heartbreaking memoir from the widow of Mark Madoff and daughter-in-law of Bernard Madoff, the first genuine inside story from a family member who has lived through — and survived — both the public crisis and her own deeply personal tragedy.

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