MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewDon’t break stride for killjoy contemporary questions of race, gender, socioeconomics and unconscious editorial bias in the shaping of historical narrative and maybe it is. At the very least, here is testimony by over 300 industry professionals, some of whom made silent movies and are now dead, others of whom are Steven Spielberg and Jordan Peele. And the result is a fat, showbiz-nerd-satisfying tome with something for every showbiz-nerd taste: on-set stories, technical details, funny anecdotes about actors, the echoes of studio executives kvetching and various people complaining about critics. Hooray for Hollywood! ... With the conversations of more than 3,000 guest speakers to choose from, of course, the organizing structure is key. And in this, Basinger and Wasson have done a snazzy job of folding topics into a timeline that begins in the era of silent movies and calls it a wrap with up-to-the-minute show folk throwing out words like \'digital,\' \'social media\' and \'globalization\' ... we have the provocative or amusing or illustrative words of hundreds of insiders to entertain us. But without the context of time and place, an important piece of scholarship is missing. This is Basinger and Wasson’s and the AFI’s oral history of Hollywood, and it’s a fine one. But remember, as the man said, Nobody knows anything.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... striking ... Moore recounts with — what is that inflection? Not rue, not regret, not extraneous affect; the reader is invited to supply all of that herself, and the effect is both mesmerizing and sometimes maddening ... there can be little doubt that this memoir is Moore’s own provocative entry into the conversation. Through the #MeToo lens, her measured, superficially judgment-free recounting of her time in the middle of All That can be read as a personal statement of empowerment: She came, she saw, she took notes, and she left to become a novelist and a miss-no-detail student of female autonomy.
E. L. James
PositiveEntertainment WeeklyAs hardcore lady porn, Fifty Shades of Grey has a long literary tradition behind it ... But as a hot publishing phenomenon (Vintage Books has paid seven figures for the rights to a trilogy) that pours female-oriented erotica over a base of Twilight leavings and makes brilliant use of the discreet portability of e-books, Fifty Shades of Grey is in a class by itself. Holy crap! A reader might just miss her bus stop.
PositiveEntertainment WeeklyIt’s Fey’s custom-quality, handcrafted BS detector that makes Bossypants so irresistible. In this genially jumbled memoir-esque collection of riffs, essays, laundry lists, true stories, fantasy scenarios, SNL script excerpts, and embarrassing photos from the wilderness years before she received the gift of a flattering haircut, the great Miz Fey puts on the literary equivalent of a satisfying night of sketch comedy. As a result, some of the bits are better than others ... But Fey remains notably selective about the information she shares; while making jokes at her own expense, she maintains an inviolable sense of privacy. It’s the more freewheeling, improvised chapters that capture Fey at her sharpest (and most influentially feminist) ... Oh, and a note to those who would ask Fey, a working mother, \'How do you juggle it all?\': Don’t ask! If she knew how to juggle it all, she wouldn’t be so funny. Or such an excellent Bossypants.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBy the time the author, a former TV critic for The Village Voice, finished her book, Donald Trump had become the first fake-reality-TV character to occupy the Oval Office ... Stealing the Show at times feels a little bereft of urgency. Then again. Here is a collection of women who have managed to make television on their own terms, embodying proof that it can be done ... The author is particularly interested in (and good at describing) the varieties of sexual identities available to women on shows created by women ... And if, in the end, Press can’t quite sustain the optimism that spurred her book proposal, she comes by her anxieties honestly.
PanThe New York Times Book Review...Santa Monica-based entertainment writer Beverly Gray doubles down on the declaration embedded in her book’s subtitle by inserting herself throughout the pages as a leading touchstone toucher ...pops up in first person throughout an otherwise average recounting of the making of 'The Graduate' and its reception to say, 'I was there.' ...those who have not seen the movie will not be enlightened by Gray’s chatty narration for the visually impaired ...a puzzling project. It is also a compilation of an awful lot of distracting clichés ...we come to a clue to understanding the book’s tortured structure, its pained search for an angle: Most of the research seems to have taken place a decade ago.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThat Carlson lacks the authority or experience to confidently analyze what Nora Ephron did and didn’t do as a filmmaker of romantic comedies — and fills the empty space with blog-post-like extras about what the director wore on the set — is the main reason this reader of neck-fretting age is not having what the impressionable author and her underanalyzed pop-culture project is having ... Nothing in I’ll Have What She’s Having makes a persuasive case for why Sleepless and Mail can be considered in the same category of excellence as Harry/Sally (me, I say they’re not); neither does Carlson make a convincing argument for why the romantic comedy needed saving (me, I say it didn’t, not if one looks at Hollywood history more fully); nor does she elucidate how Ephron saved the genre and shaped what came after (me, I say hooey).
PositiveEntertainment WeeklyThe women in The Dovekeepers are physically and spiritually strong, they have elemental female desires when it comes to love, sex, and children, and many of them possess magical powers: In other words, they’re Alice Hoffman Women … The four embody aspects of not only femininity and feminism but also spiritual expression, Jewish tradition, and — in the biggest picture — the world’s never-ending cycle of peace and war and peace, among both nations and families.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...in A Tale for the Time Being is a 16-year-old Japanese girl named Nao who never makes an appearance in the flesh. Nao’s lively voice, by turns breezy, petulant, funny, sad and teenage-girl wise, reaches the reader in the pages of her diary, which, as Ruth Ozeki begins to fold and pleat her intricate parable of a novel...lucky for Ruth, the diary’s mysteries are a gift for any storyteller, even more so for one feeling stuck about her next project. Each page sends Ruth scurrying in pursuit of clues about the girl’s existence... This is a book that does not give up its multiple meanings easily, gently but insistently instructing the reader to progress slowly in order to contemplate the porous membrane that separates fact from fiction, self from circumstance, past from present.
MixedNewsweekThis is a radioactive little book. Why was it published? Certainly an anonymous, real woman has a right to have her story known. But still, something troubles this reader about the brutal sensationalism, discreetly packaged in a quietly designed product ... The Incest Diary does its work. The anonymous author is a strong writer, and she lays down a kind of dare with the furious brio of her prose: Whatever the reader feels is, after all, just a fraction of what this woman has allegedly gone through, and now she is permanently mangled by the man she once trusted most in the world. Believe her and feel very, very bad. Question this book and feel very, very bad too.
RaveEntertainment Weekly[Obreht] spins a tale of such marvel and magic in a literary voice so enchanting that the mesmerized reader wants her never to stop … As Natalia unravels the mysteries surrounding his death, remembered stories either by or about her grandfather and other family members spill out, anchoring her in tradition and lore even as she tries to live in her fractured modern land … Obreht is joltingly young to have found such a clear, wise voice, moored by the faintly droll storytelling style of her heritage and set free by her own tremendous talent.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe exploration here is lively, the critic is deeply informed, and she approaches her mandate with a calmness of inquiry that is a gift often bestowed on the outsider anthropologist impervious to tribal influences ... The result is a fascinating jumble of messages — a study of a critic inevitably analyzing herself as she considers the life (Jewish and otherwise) of Steven Spielberg ... Such stinging observations may have little to do with her subject’s Jewish journey, but they make for tasty, tart little treyf surprises to offset the lulls where the author appears enervated by the story she has been assigned to tell.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe author revels in her happy movie geekery. She swoons, with exaggerated sincerity ... Personally, I don’t think snooty critics are fighting the author as hard as she thinks, even those who prefer to dwell on the ’80s as the era of 'Blade Runner,' 'Raging Bull' and 'Blue Velvet' rather than 'Sixteen Candles' ... Still, mixed in with the slumber-party gush, Freeman makes many smart observations worth saving up and revisiting for a project less giggly than this.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewGabler’s organizing principle is that Streisand’s outsider roots — as a Jewish-looking, Jewish-sounding, Brooklyn-toughened woman who pushed past rejection and (gentile) Hollywood standards of female beauty and desirability to brilliant stardom — are the defining, revolutionary characteristic of her life. The observation isn’t itself revolutionary; who would disagree? But the author does a neat job of weaving every thread he can pull into the cloth...Gabler squeezes a lot of best-yeshiva-student scholarly references and citations into his assignment. And the editorial decision to title each chapter with a Yiddishism goes a shtick too far. But at least this brief biography looks at a well-documented star in a new way.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewWith no context, though, the title comes off as a complaint on the part of the author, who seems to dislike his subject for reasons unintelligible to his readers beyond the fact that she is Meryl Streep, and she is generally considered to be one of the most illustrious American actors of her generation: still working, still transforming herself physically, still winning prizes. Irked, the author sets out to discover why she’s still here. But, as he is an unauthorized biographer, Schulman’s direct access to those who know Streep best is spotty. And as a result, the reminiscences of a former high school boyfriend receive an inordinate amount of weight, and the author leans heavily on published interviews and articles by others to come up with a leapfrogging 'explanation' of how the New Jersey high school cheerleader Mary Louise Streep became the award-laden actor she is...This is an odd, peevish book — but certainly not an uninteresting one.