Steven Tyler makes some ‘Noise’

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

During a recent episode of “American Idol,” the popular TV talent show in which the famously foul-mouthed and flamboyant Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has reinvented himself as a family-friendly judge, host Ryan Seacrest good-naturedly stopped by the judging table to rib Tyler about his new book, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”

“This book is not for the faint of heart,” Seacrest noted, adding, “You’ve really exposed yourself here. Is there any area you haven’t touched?”

Tyler dodged the question, but the answer may well be “no.” …

“Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?”: A rock star revealed (Salon)

The making of a modern family

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, Melissa Fay Greene’s new book about life with her nine children—four biological, five adopted—is a more revealing, richer book than its cutesy-parenting title might lead you to expect. In it, Greene, a two-time National Book Award finalist, recounts with warmth and humor how she and her criminal defense attorney husband, Donny, came to adopt first a 4-year-old Romani boy from an orphanage in Bulgaria, and then a daughter and three sons from Ethiopia, absorbing each into their upper-middle-class, Jewish, Atlanta home. “This book is the story of the creation of a family,” she writes. “It began in the usual way: a woman, a man, some babies. But then it took off in a modern direction, roping in a few older children from distant countries.” …

Review: “No Biking in the House Without a Helmet” (The Barnes and Noble Review)

Molly Ringwald gets her pretty back

April 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here’s what you probably already know about Molly Ringwald: Back in the ’80s, she was the pretty, pouty face of suburban teen angst, starring in the iconic John Hughes movies Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Here’s what you may also know: recently, she’s returned to the topic of teen angst, playing the mother of a teen mom in the ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager. But there are many things you may not know about the flame-haired former Brat Pack member, and you’ll learn some of them in her new book, Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick. …

Interview: Molly Ringwald (The Barnes & Noble Review)

“Value the passage of time”

March 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

On December 8, 2007, Roger Rosenblatt’s 38-year-old daughter, Amy, collapsed while running on her treadmill in her Bethesda, Maryland, home. The two eldest of her three children, ages 6, 4 and 1, were playing nearby and ran for help. Amy’s husband, a hand surgeon, rushed to her and performed CPR, but it was too late. Amy — mother, daughter, sister, friend, doctor — had died instantly of a heart defect she hadn’t known she had. What happened in the months following this unimaginable event, how a family reassembles itself after a devastating loss and moves on, is the subject of Rosenblatt’s spare, moving book Making Toast

Review: “Making Toast” by Roger Rosenblatt (The Barnes & Noble Review)

Making peace with marriage

January 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Anyone who has read Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, probably feels they know the author pretty well by now. In that book, Gilbert swept the reader into her world, her travels, her very thoughts as she launched herself out of a miserable marriage and brutal love affair and onto a redemptive quest to find pleasure, God and, ultimately, a sense of balance. Like happy travel companions, Gilbert’s readers tagged along as she devoured the sensuous dishes, sights, and cadences of Rome; experienced a spiritual awakening at an ashram in India; and at last found contentment in Bali, in the gauzily mosquito-netted bed of her kind, handsome, older Brazilian lover, “Felipe.” Through it all, Gilbert entertained us with her keen humor and keener self-awareness, turning what could have been a maddening ego trip into a pleasurable journey. Having been so open with her confidences, Gilbert now seems, to many readers, like a dear friend. When you’ve written a book like that — a book embraced by Oprah and squajillions of adoring women, a book that sat atop the New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list for 57 weeks, has been translated into 30 languages, and is currently being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts — what do you do for an encore? …

Review: “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert (The Barnes & Noble Review)

A real-life “Top Chef”

December 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

knives at dawnAs anyone who has ever devoured an episode of Top Chef knows, even if you can’t taste the food, cooking competitions can be a sensual feast to watch: the thrilling mix of colors and textures; the urgent rhythm of knife work and quiet fluidity of kitchen choreography; the mounting tension as empty plates and persnickety palates await; the pleasure of presentation — the imagined tastes and aromas — followed by the painfully attenuated moment of judgment. And then there are all of those riveting chef personalities …

In Brief: “Knives at Dawn” by Andrew Friedman (The Barnes & Noble Review)

An “impulse toward treachery”

November 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

City BoyAt the tail end of the 1980s, shortly after I’d first arrived in New York, an earnest young grad student — straight and more or less straitlaced, all midwestern chirp — I took an administrative job at a midtown office in which the only other employees were two buff and beautiful gay men. AIDS was ravaging the city then. Classmates in my theater program were disappearing with heartbreaking regularity. It was a frightening, dangerous time. But there, in that office, gay New York seemed like one big, wild, raunchy, ridiculously fun party …

Review: “City Boy” by Edmund White (The Barnes & Noble Review)

It’s a man’s list after all

November 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

They probably saw it coming.

Publishers Weekly is catching some flak for its list of the 10 best books of 2009, all of which were written by men. “We wanted the list to reflect what we thought were the top 10 books of the year with no other consideration,” explains the magazine’s reviews director, Louisa Ermelino, introducing the list, which includes Blake Bailey’s Cheever: A Life, Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply and Neil Sheehan’s A Fiery Peace in a Cold War, among other man-made works. The magazine deliberately ignored gender, she writes, but allows, “It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male.” …

In the Margin: The Manly Art of List-Making (The Barnes & Noble Review)

“Just tell the truth”

October 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

Years ago, in a past life, I met Jeannette Walls at a conference, a “gossip” symposium organized by some now-long-defunct dot-com. I knew who she was — everyone in the room did; she wrote a widely read online gossip column for MSNBC, “The Scoop,” was a veteran journalist who’d worked at Esquire and New York magazines, and had published a terrific book on gossip called Dish. Strikingly tall, polished-looking, and sitting at the front of the room, she was a respected member of the gossip establishment, surrounded by colleagues and admirers. From my spot in the back, where I was slumped down trading snarky comments with the other dabblers and misfits, I swear, as the light bounced off her lustrous red hair, she looked like she had an aura …

Jeannette Walls: A conversation with Amy Reiter (The Barnes & Noble Review)

It’s not just you

August 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Time and again, while reading Melanie Gideon’s sharply insightful “The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After,” I had the vaguely unsettling feeling that someone else had written the story of my own current life. No, it’s true, my husband is not prone to buying hulking, macho adventure vans on the Internet, as Gideon’s is, nor have I had to contend with the death of a beloved family dog or, to my knowledge, ever had Julia Child over to my home for dinner. But (I say, waving these plot points away with the back of my hand) these are mere technicalities. Gideon has cast a hook down through the amusing surface details of her own more-or-less happy modern middle-class family life and come up with deep truths about marriage, motherhood, aging, friendship and other things that occupy women who’ve confidently cruised past 40 — only to panic and weave as 50 looms large ahead …

Review: “The Slippery Year” by Melanie Gideon (The Barnes & Noble Review)

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