RaveThe London Review of BooksI think this is Eyman’s best and most heartfelt book ... Eyman’s book comes into its own once Grant is established in the movie kingdom, and helps us feel the wisdom of his subtitle, ‘A Brilliant Disguise’. We follow along as Grant absorbs the techniques of movie reticence and gains his reputation for fabulous assurance. Eyman’s biographical insights show that his jauntiness was a mask covering insatiable unease.
William J. Mann
PositiveThe London Review of BooksYou’re going to find it hard to read a good Life of a good actor without throwing the book aside in frustration. Sure, he’s an angel, a genius, a charmer, but such a muddle and a mess, not to mention a pain in the neck. Imagine what it’s like for the writer. Or for Marlon ... There could be less of [the] scene-setting, but maybe there were fears that the dropping in and out might disconcert some readers. The book does move back and forth in time, dumping strict chronology for feeling and insight. I think this works ... Mann is at his best recounting the speed with which the young Brando went from the New School to playing Stanley Kowalski ... Mann’s is the best short life of Brando we’ll ever have, and nearly as good as his incisive portrait of Katharine Hepburn, Kate. I say ‘short’ with some irony, but it might actually have been shorter, for the dropping in and out is more an interpretation than a thorough record. Actors are always considering and exploring so many other lives that their own can suffer in comparison. But Mann persuades us that Brando was so confused and contradictory that a tidy story would be a cheat.
MixedThe GuardianWright is scrupulous and straight-faced in describing the self-help philosophy ... Much of this is hard to believe, and Wright has armed himself with detailed source notes and regular footnotes to the effect that the church or Tom Cruise\'s lawyers \'deny this ever happened\' ... so crammed with unpleasant people and degrading stories, and so helplessly clotted with Scientology jargon and acronyms, that it\'s not easy reading. Nothing dispels the feeling that Scientology was a horror and farce that was dwindling in advance of this book.
MixedThe London Review of BooksWho Is Michael Ovitz? is no better written than an email from the boss to the guys. But that’s its proper and very readable style. We should guard against Ovitz’s calm vanity in interpreting all the deals. Some have seen the book as a grandiloquent and self-serving celebration of the way efficiency killed Hollywood, following decades in which the business had been lyrically unbusinesslike. But while there can be no doubt that Ovitz was a uniquely obsessed operative, if it hadn’t been him it would have been someone else. There was once an age when uneducated vulgarians who had escaped Europe made raw pictures that thrilled the world. But their business grew so large it became part of the conglomerated media industry. In the process, the vibrant mainstream picture – dreams for everyone – died, and expertise is part of what smothered it.
David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleWhat makes this book endearing is its chatty, calm...anti-Hollywood attitude…and matter-of-fact defiance of reality that won’t alarm your dog or save mankind. This is a living book by two authors who deserve to be read as partners. Part of the charm of Room to Dream is how the two parts of the book nod to one another ... I can believe that the casual and yarning text by Lynch himself was read into a tape recorder but I don’t think his expansive eloquence would have existed without his faith in Kristine McKenna.
You could read these passages and decide that David was a pain in the neck, a weird mix of pretension, calculation and insufferable.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle\"Itzkoff has delivered a breathtakingly good biography, exhilarating a lot of the time, yet disturbing, too, and one of the best books ever written about anyone who sees no way out of life except by trying to make people laugh. Or is it weeping? Who can tell in a storm? ... He was 24, profuse and unmanageable, and by March 1979 he was on the cover of Time. Nothing in Itzkoff’s unstintingly readable book is as amazing as those few years — because they are possibly the ones in which Robin was most lyrically free ... He did not really write his own material or shape his projects. But when the hurricane was there, he let it vent. He was unique, and this book needs no subtitle. Just hope no one ever tries to play him.\
PanThe ObserverThere’s nothing sportive, coruscating or especially witty in this book. Like everything else by Mr. Banville that I’ve read (and liked), the novel is founded in the gradual uncovering of true, if shy, feeling … This is the point at which I should remind you that John Banville’s The Sea has just won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in London. Now, there have been Banville works in the past that I could see winning prizes, and I don’t doubt his ability in the future to write masterpieces. But The Sea has me marooned.