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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $23.95
82 used & new from $0.44

5.0 out of 5 stars All 22 Essays Read bySedaris--Hilarity & Heartbreak, August 28, 2015
David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day, etc.) perfects his written essays by going on the road and reading them aloud, so it's no surprise that his new collection is even more hilarious and haunting as an audiobook.

All 22 of the book's essays are here, and it's a treasury of riches matched by Sedaris's slightly nasal but enthralling delivery. Sedaris's material has always walked a razor's edge between hilarious and heartbreaking, and never more so than here. Although Sedaris pokes fun at his family, he mixes the laughs with empathy. When he tries to make sense out of his sister's squalid living conditions in "Put a Lid on It," his deadpan descriptions and hyper reactions are hysterically funny, but it's clear that his sister is a complex person, not just a punch line.

Likewise, his late mother, previously seen as a chain-smoking, tart-talking dame, gains more depth in the downright spooky "The Girl Next Store." In "The End of the Affair," he and boyfriend Hugh disagree over a romantic movie and he concludes, "Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you're offered the perfect opportunity to hurt someone's feelings." Still, Sedaris hasn't lost his irreverence; in "Possession," he tours Anne Frank's annex and imagines how he'd redecorate it.

Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon -- The Case Against Celebrity
Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon -- The Case Against Celebrity
by Mark Ebner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.22
91 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Sour and Joyless Read, August 28, 2015
Not since Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons have two journalists (Breitbart feeds stories to Internet scandalmonger Matt Drudge and Ebner wrote for Spy) gathered more mean-spirited gossip about celebrities they condemn as sick and depraved.

This diatribe is so unrelentingly negative that it loses all power to persuade. Breitbart and Ebner cover a variety of subjects they stand against, among them celebrities voicing their political views, a woman's right to choose, single motherhood and celebrities adopting children.

In a chapter devoted to anonymous nannies discussing disrespectful kids of anonymous movie stars, the authors suggest mandatory Norplant and vasectomies for Hollywood parents. Hugh Hefner can't win for being wild or conservative; the authors blast the "fossilized relic embalmed in nostalgia and Viagra" for watching a bestiality video 30 years ago, and then condemn him for his intolerance of illegal drugs.

Peculiarly, the authors adore gay porn director Paul Barresi, who paid off the "she-males of the night" that Eddie Murphy frequented so they'd change their stories. But when Murphy's lawyers didn't compensate Barresi, he turned all his records over to the authors. Barresi went on to warn Michael Jackson that his latest videographer was also a gay porn director. But when Jackson wouldn't pay for the information, Barresi leaked the story to the tabloids. Instead of calling Barresi a blackmailer, the authors announce that "he has a code of ethics emphasizing loyalty and respect."

Most of the gossip isn't new (e.g., Greg Allman was an uninterested father; Whitney Houston, Nick Nolte and Robert Downey Jr. have had drug problems), and without any illuminating backstories, this is a sour and joyless read.

David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall
David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
8 used & new from $10.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious David Sedaris Before a Live Audience, August 28, 2015
Bestselling humorist Sedaris likes to test out new material on twice-a-year reading tours to get the rhythm and phrasing perfected before he puts them down on the page. This live recording of his October 22, 2002, reading at Manhattan's Carnegie Hall finds Sedaris performing seven hilarious new pieces and taking a few questions from his audience.

As uproarious as Sedaris is on the page, he's even funnier reading his wickedly jaundiced reflections. With brilliant deadpan timing, Sedaris is a charm, whether being coaxed into purchasing his clothes in the women's department by his sister Amy ("I'm the guy in a crowded steak house removing a jacket with the label reading 'Sassy Sport'") or untangling the Dutch legend of St. Nicholas and his "six to eight black men" slaves/assistants or trying to explain to guests—in French—that his boss has a rubber hand.

Sedaris reaches his pinnacle of hilarity describing his purchase of the "Stadium Pal," an exterior catheter marketed to "sports fans, truck drivers and anyone else who's tired of searching for a bathroom." He praises the "freedom leg bag" that conveniently attaches to the user's calf: "The bag can be emptied and reused up to 12 times, making it both disgusting and cost-effective."

All I Want For Christmas
All I Want For Christmas
by Richard Tyler Jordan
Edition: Paperback
65 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Gay Holiday Themed Stories from Four Excellent Writers, August 28, 2015
Four of Kensington's most popular gay novelists contribute novellas to this collection of holiday-themed fiction that should fulfill most stocking-stuffer requirements.

In Jon Jeffrey's "He'll Be Mine by Christmas Morning," self-absorbed magazine editor Carson St. John goes to great lengths (including hiring a dating coach to critique his personality traits) to woo Callum Fox, a consumer trends forecaster who recently "pulled a Sandy from Grease" (i.e. transformed himself from a chunk to a hunk). Although Carson's shift from callow to cavalier is abrupt, the writing is witty and fun.

Chris Kenry's "An Extra-Large Christmas" is filled with interesting characters-including a retired gay porn star and a famous photographer of sculpted gym bunnies who secretly lusts after a plus-sized UPS delivery man-but the one-joke premise (the photographer thinks he will be ruined if people know he is a chubby-chaser) gets less funny as it drags on.

The two best stories are unwrapped last. William Mann's haunting and skillful "If You Believe" uses flashbacks to show three friends' evolving relationships with each other when new mates are added.

Ben Tyler's bubbly and sweet-natured "Naughty or Nice" features musical-comedy TV star Polly Pepper's efforts to find Mr. Right for her gay son. Polly is a great creation, a raunchier Auntie Mame (with a yen for risqu‚ Internet chat rooms) and a slightly more sober version of AbFab's Patsy and Edina (with best friend/maid Placenta in tow).

Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball
Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, Well-Researched Lucy Biography, August 28, 2015
Early in the run of "I Love Lucy, Ball" gave co-star Vivian Vance a hard time. Vance decided, "If by any chance this thing actually becomes a hit and goes anywhere, I'm gonna learn to love that bitch." She did, and so did the rest of the world. But according to Kanfer's excellent, compulsively readable biography, Ball (1911-1989) was much easier to love from afar (as was Kanfer's previous subject, Groucho Marx).

Despite all the laughter the gifted red-headed comedienne produced, her personal life was unhappy. To save their marriage, she and Desi Arnaz produced and starred in I Love Lucy. It revolutionized TV (it was shot on film with three cameras in front of a live audience), but the all-consuming pressure of the show (and other shows produced by their company, Desilu) pushed them apart and made them absentee parents.

Although Ball reigned on four consecutive top-rated CBS comedies from 1951 to 1974, Kanfer sees a decline in the quality of her work beginning in the early '60s. Without Arnaz to dominate her and placate others after they divorced, Ball became all-controlling on her shows, and her temper and tactlessness began costing her professional and personal relationships. "She could be very cold," admits daughter Lucie Arnaz, "and although she told me she loved me all the time, I didn't feel loved."

Kanfer's sad, well-written and well-researched bio benefits from a wealth of previously published accounts (best are Kathleen Brady's "Lucille" and Geoffrey Mark Fidelman's "The Lucy Book"), but her story is still a compelling one.

Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier
Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Book on Grace Kelly, August 28, 2015
The "happily ever after" marriage of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier III of Monaco is explored and demythologized in this fascinating, compelling and well-researched royal biography.

After failed romances with married co-stars (Ray Milland and William Holden) and turning down a marriage proposal from Oleg Cassini, Kelly met Rainier, the prince of a popular Mediterranean resort town who was searching for a princess he hoped would become "the manifestation of all that we hope for and dream about in Monaco." Nine months after what was called "the wedding of the century" (watched by 30 million TV viewers) in 1956, Grace gave birth to the first of their three children. Never planning to stop making films, she bowed to her husband's wishes and soon her loneliness and boredom were replaced by severe depression. The prince encouraged her to accept Alfred Hitchcock's offer of the lead in "Marnie." But the subjects of Monaco objected and forced her to withdraw.

Before her tragic car accident death in 1982, Grace found contentment in the life she chose. As he demonstrated in his 2002 bestseller, "Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot," Taraborrelli is adept at illuminating political intrigue and complex family dynamics. He smoothly weaves together hundreds of exclusive interviews (in fast-paced, short chapters) to create vivid, full-blooded portraits. This is the definitive book on a marriage that started as an arrangement but ended as a love story.

The Ice Maiden (Britt Montero series Book 8)
The Ice Maiden (Britt Montero series Book 8)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You'll Never Guess the Triple-Twist Ending!, August 28, 2015
Buchanan's alter ego, Miami crime reporter Britt Montero, returns as the protagonist of an eighth fast-paced detective thriller (after You Only Die Twice).

The Miami police's cold case squad (which investigates long-unsolved crimes) catches a break when an electrocuted burglar proves to be a vital link in solving a 14-year-old murder. Two affluent teenagers on their first date were abducted, assaulted, shot and left for dead. Despite a massive reward and a multi-state manhunt, the police were never able to find the attackers. The girl, Sunny, survived and has become a reclusive sculptress unwilling to revisit the past. But the reopening of the case attracts the attention of some who are willing to kill again, and Sunny finds herself pulled back in. As always, Buchanan packs her tale with fascinating secondary story lines, including a baby trapped in a well, a friend involved in domestic violence and Britt's on-again/off-again romance with detective Kendall McDonald.

The somber shadow of September 11 hangs in the air throughout (Britt is plagued by nightmares; McDonald volunteers at Ground Zero). In addition to clever plotting, Buchanan's strong suit is once again her empathy: she always focuses on the devastated family and friends who survive each murder victim.

Few will guess the final triple-twist ending of this exceptionally dark and moving entry in a series that never fails to please.achievement in journalism-in addition to an earlier Pulitzer Prize for crime reporting.

Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests
Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests
by Tom Shales
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.27
137 used & new from $2.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Fighting and Showbiz Dirt in This Oral History of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, August 28, 2015
This oral history of NBC's Saturday Night Live is the juiciest treasure trove of backstage gossip, sex and drugs since The Andy Warhol Diaries.

With four decades' worth of memories from cast members, celebrity hosts, writers, crew and network execs, readers get first-hand reports (often contradictory) on the volatile, competitive, grueling and often drug-fueled process of creating a weekly, 90-minute, live comedy show. While the cast and writers changed over the decades there were two constants: the universal loathing of guest host Chevy Chase and the power of producer Lorne Michaels ("I think he picked the right profession," assesses Jane Curtin, "because he gets to lord over people who want to kneel at his feet and he doesn't acknowledge them—which makes them work harder.").

Regulars like Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Billy Crystal, Bill Murray, Al Franken, Martin Short as well as guest hosts like Tom Hanks, Penny Marshall, Alec Baldwin, Carrie Fisher, Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin contribute sterling anecdotes that are alternately hilarious, touching, upbeat and scathing. With the exception of Eddie Murphy (who's positively portrayed), virtually the only missing voices are of those who have passed away (the editors use only interviews conducted for the book and not vintage interviews with John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Phil Hartman or Chris Farley). Scandals, infighting and plenty of showbiz dirt make this a guilty-pleasure page-turner from start to finish.

Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael
Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael
by Pauline Kael
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.95
91 used & new from $0.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A Farewell to Pauline Kael--Opinionated Til the End, August 28, 2015
This slim but potent volume offers movie lovers an elegant good-bye from the acerbic, wildly opinionated National Book Award- winning film critic who reigned at the New Yorker from 1968 to 1991.

The New York Times called her "probably the most influential film critic of her time." Kael's enthusiasm for films was contagious, as she praised or damned them with giddy vitality. Longtime friend Davis's three extended conversations find the octogenarian still an avid moviegoer. While this book doesn't offer extended reviews, fans will be delighted to hear Kael weigh in on movies released since she stopped writing a decade ago.

She enjoyed the "sweet" Star Trek spoof "Galaxy Quest;" the first half of "Boogie Nights;" "High Fidelity" ("it gets better as it goes along"); and Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars." She was also fond of TV's "terrific" "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos" ("I loved the first season and watched it religiously"). She found "Silence of the Lambs" "a hideous and obvious piece of moviemaking"; Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" "ludicrous from the word go"; and "American Beauty" "heavy and turgid." She also blasts later-day Steven Spielberg ("Always" was "a shameful movie" and the casting was "terribly wrongheaded" in "Schindler's List").

Besides film quips, Kael defends her critical review of the Holocaust documentary "Shoah," regrets being talked out of reviewing "Deep Throat" and discusses current filmmaking and her 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease. FYI: The book's September 3, 2002 publication date coincided with the one-year anniversary of Kael's death at age 82.

Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend
Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend
Price: $9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars 1955) a camera crew was set up in her hospital room (the day after giving birth to her son) to record her Best Actress Oscar acc, August 28, 2015
It's hard to imagine that there could ever be a more obsessive detailing of Garland's life than this day-by-day listing that brings new meaning to the word minutiae. There seems to be no detail too small or insignificant to escape Scott Schechter's forensic-like attention to all things Judy (1922--1969).

A $15.97 receipt from Lord & Taylor for a new hat (December 12, 1968) merits the same amount of space as the night (March 30, 1955) a camera crew was set up in her hospital room (the day after giving birth to her son) to record her Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech for "A Star Is Born" (she wound up losing to Grace Kelly). Given that this is a quotidian chronology, some entries are banal (numerous dates just note checks Garland wrote that day), but as anyone who has ever read a Garland bio knows, she didn't lead a dull life.

There is a strange fascination to being able to chart the progress of the shooting of "The Wizard of Oz," "Meet Me in St. Louis" and other MGM musicals (and hour-by-hour notations for "Annie Get Your Gun" before she was fired). Schechter (publisher and editor of the fanzine Garlands for Judy The Legend's Legacy) includes a generous sampling of reviews for films, albums and live appearances and dutifully notes current availability for fans.

Although few enthusiasts will read this cover-to-cover, it is sure to have enormous appeal as a reference tome and have multiple uses for trivia buffs

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