Also loved by editors of New York Times Book Review – I’ve picked a few from this list!

When I listed the 10 Best Books from The New York Times, I meant to include the extra list of other books the editors loved. These books didn’t make the editors’ top ten, but they highly recommended them. I’d actually heard of some of these! All links and descriptions are from Amazon, unless otherwise noted.

The Magician by Colm Toibin
From one of today’s most brilliant and beloved novelists, a dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War. Note from me: this one’s about Thomas Mann, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 and is the author of The Magic Mountain, a book I read in college and would like to read again.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Once in a great while, a book comes along that changes our view of the world. This magnificent novel from the Nobel laureate and author of Never Let Me Go is “an intriguing take on how artificial intelligence might play a role in our futures … a poignant meditation on love and loneliness” (The Associated Press).

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
“A visceral full-body experience, a sharp jolt to the heart, and a treat for the senses…Cosby’s moody southern thriller marries the skillful action and plotting of Lee Child with the atmosphere and insight of Attica Locke.” —NPR

Wayward by Dana Spioda
A “furious and addictive new novel” (The New York Times) about mothers and daughters, and one woman’s midlife reckoning as she flees her suburban life.

Dirty Work by Eyal Press
A groundbreaking, urgent report from the front lines of “dirty work”―the work that society considers essential but morally compromised.

Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney
A new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

The Life of the Mind by Christine Smallwood
A witty, intelligent novel of an American woman on the edge, by a brilliant new voice in fiction—“the glorious love child of Ottessa Moshfegh and Sally Rooney” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
Jonathan Franzen’s gift for wedding depth and vividness of character with breadth of social vision has never been more dazzlingly evident than in Crossroads. Note from me: I remember reading The Corrections a long time ago for my book club, but I haven’t read anything else by Franzen.

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart
Eight friends, one country house, and six months in isolation—a novel about love, friendship, family, and betrayal hailed as a “virtuoso performance” (USA Today) and “an homage to Chekhov with four romances and a finale that will break your heart” (The Washington Post).

It’s interesting to me that there’s only one nonfiction on this list, Dirty Work. I might want to read that, but also on my list of potential reads would be The Magician, Razorblade Tears, and Crossroads. What would you like to read? Leave a comment!

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The 10 Best Books of 2021 from The New York Times

Yesterday I watched a live stream of The 10 Best Books of 2021 from The New York Times. It was so fun! Presented by the editors of The New York Times Book Review, each chose their favorites and talked about how these five fiction and five nonfiction books made the list. I enjoyed seeing the faces of the reviewers and hearing them talk. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of loaded book cases in the backgrounds! There was a Zoom afterparty and I checked in for a minute, but I didn’t have time to stay long. I wished I had because the editors were holding an open discussion of the books, plus they invited viewers to talk about their own favorites.

Although I haven’t read any of these, I’ve already reserved copies of many from the library, so look out for future reviews!

All links, blurbs and quotes are from Amazon.

FICTION

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

A fearless young woman from a small African village starts a revolution against an American oil company in this sweeping, inspiring novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers.

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

A novel from the author of A Separation, an electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

A fictional examination of the lives of real-life scientists and thinkers whose discoveries resulted in moral consequences beyond their imagining.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeferrs

“A vibrant and tender coming-of-age novel. Ailey Pearl Garfield is a young girl reckoning with what it means to be a Black woman in America.” – Time

No One Is Talking about This by Patricia Lockwood

From “a formidably gifted writer” (The New York Times Book Review), a book that asks: Is there life after the internet?

NONFICTION

Red Comet by Heather Clark

The highly anticipated biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art.

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott

“Destined to become one of the classics of the genre” (Newsweek), the riveting, unforgettable story of a girl whose indomitable spirit is tested by homelessness, poverty, and racism in an unequal America—from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrea Elliott of The New York Times

The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen

Called “a masterpiece” by The New York Times, the acclaimed trilogy from Tove Ditlevsen, a pioneer in the field of genre-bending confessional writing.

Have you read any of these books? Which ones would you like to read? To start, I’d like to read How Beautiful We Were, Intimacies, No One Is Talking about This, Red Comet, Invisible Child and The Copenhagen Trilogy.

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Audiobook Review: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers
by
Malcolm Gladwell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How do we make sense of people we don’t know? We might think we can read the strangers we meet, but sometimes we get it wrong. Using examples from history and the news, Malcolm Gladwell shows how and why we make these mistakes.

The book begins with the Sandra Bland case. In 2015, Bland, a young African American woman, was stopped by a police officer in Texas for a traffic violation. Based on his preliminary interaction, the officer feared an aggressive confrontation. The situation quickly got out of hand. Bland was arrested and jailed and three days later, she committed suicide in her jail cell.

Before World War II, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was sure he could accurately read Adolf Hitler, so he scheduled a series of face-to-face meetings. Afterwards, Chamberlain told the world that Hitler would not invade Europe, because Hitler had given his word and had even signed a paper saying so. Fidel Castro fooled the CIA and flipped many American agents during the 1980s, much to the shock of the United States. Bernie Madoff duped investors out of $64.8 billion in the largest Ponzi scheme in history. How could these things happen?

One of the reasons (not the Sandra Bland case, that’s more a case of a tragic misreading) is that human beings are wired to default to truth: most of us want to believe. We wouldn’t be able to function as a society if we thought everyone was lying. And most of the time, the strangers we meet do tell the truth. Psychologist Tim Levine, who has conducted comprehensive studies of human behavior, explains why. “What we get in exchange for being vulnerable to an occasional lie is efficient communication and social coordination,” says Levine. In other words, “the cost of doing business.”

We’re also conditioned to believe facial expressions. Smiles mean happy, frowns mean mad, furtive eyes mean lying, etc. That doesn’t always work. And sometimes the undetected lies are at great cost. Gladwell looks at how former Penn State football coach and convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky fooled school administrators and the public. And why Larry Nassar, team physician of the USA Gymnastics women’s national team, abused girls and women for years before he was convicted.

But what about the Amanda Knox case? Knox, an exchange student in Italy, was convicted of murdering her roommate in 2007. She spent nearly four years in an Italian prison before courts overturned her conviction. Why was she convicted? Because, despite a complete lack of evidence, she didn’t behave the way we believed someone in her situation should have behaved. She wasn’t serious enough and so the courts, and the tabloids, thought she was lying.

On college campuses, young people also struggle to understand the strangers they meet at parties, particularly when alcohol mixes into their interactions. Gladwell looks at consent as it applies to the 2015 sexual assault case against Stanford University freshman Brock Turner.

And in a fascinating look at depression and suicide, Gladwell explains the theory of coupling, the idea that certain settings and circumstances, lead to situations, including suicide, that otherwise would not occur. How does this connect to the other examples? We may misread others because we don’t understand the coupling circumstances.

This book was fascinating. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Gladwell, and supplemented with the print version. The audiobook was produced to resemble a podcast, using actual interviews from the cases cited. Gladwell does a great job explaining each case, the theories and tying up the examples. I’m sure I will read more books by Gladwell and highly recommend Talking to Strangers.

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Book Review: Elizabeth and Monty: the Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship by Charles Casillo

Elizabeth and Monty: the Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship
by
Charles Casillo

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’ve always been interested in Hollywood glamour during the 1940s and 1950s, so when I saw this book at our library, I grabbed it. Most everyone knows about Elizabeth Taylor, her legendary beauty and her eight marriages. I’d heard of Montgomery Clift, remembered him as handsome and that the two costarred in some films, but I was curious about their relationship.

Elizabeth and Monty is a well-researched biography of Taylor and Clift and a history of their friendship. Although at times repetitive and a little cheesy, I enjoyed reading about their backgrounds and relationship.

They developed an intense emotional frienship and, even during gaps when they didn’t see each other, they were closely bound. Over time, Elizabeth became more of a protector, as Monty struggled.

Elizabeth and Monty first met in 1951, on the set of A Place in the Sun. Elizabeth was already a beauty at seventeen and Monty, thirty-one, was an established and handsome star. Despite the age difference, the two were drawn to each other emotionally. And Monty, one of the first method actors, helped Elizabeth understand her character in the film. They were a gorgeous couple and Hollywood loved promoting them as one, but Monty was gay. Elizabeth fell in love with him anyway and hoped for more.

Casillo does a good job explaining how, during this time, homosexuality was mostly closeted and especially taboo in Hollywood. Many gay men married women and kept the image of being husbands and family men, forced to hide their sexuality. Elizabeth’s father was a closeted gay man and perhaps this experience made her more sensitive to Monty’s situation. In addition, both Elizabeth and Monty had sheltered childhoods and domineering mothers.

Monty developed an early dependency on alcohol and drugs and, after a devastating car crash in 1956 altered his appearance, he descended into alcoholism and addiction. Monty never fully recovered physically or emotionally and struggled to find work, but Elizabeth helped get him roles. He began acting strangely in public and with friends and was unreliable on the sets of new films, often arriving late and drinking all day. He died in 1966 at forty-five.

During this time, Elizabeth continued to make films, including Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly, Last Summer and Cleopatra. And she married, a lot! First to Conrad Hilton, Jr., then Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher (big scandal!), Richard Burton, John Warner and Larry Fortensky. Elizabeth had many health issues, including alcoholism and drug addiction and was constantly featured in gossip magazines. In her later years, she was an HIV/AIDS activist, had her own fragrance and jewelry brands and supported Jewish and Zionist causes. She had four children and died in 2011 at seventy-nine.

If you’re looking for an easy, fast and fun read about Hollywood and a couple famous actors from the 40s and 50s, I think you’ll like Elizabeth and Monty.

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Book Review: Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
by
Casey Cep

Rating: 5 out of 5.

While looking for true crimes for my library job, Furious Hours popped up on every list I found. The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Dallas Morning News and The Economist named it one of the best books of 2019 and President Barack Obama selected it as one of his favorite books of the same year.

During the 1970s in Nixburg, Alabama, five relatives of the Reverend Willie Maxwell died under suspicious circumstances, after which Maxwell cashed in on multiple life insurance policies. Although he was never charged with their murders, the insurance companies contested the claims. A fast-talking lawyer/politician named Tom Radney represented Maxwell and they won a majority of the disputes. Family members and citizens in Nixburg were terrified Maxwell had policies on them too. And rumors of voodoo abounded. At the funeral of the fifth family member, an outraged Robert Burns shot and killed Maxwell. Radney stepped in as his lawyer and the jury found Burns not guilty.

Cep divides this fascinating book into three parts. The first section provides an historical background of Nixburg, Alabama and the Maxwell family, their early days as sharecroppers, of Willie Maxwell’s service in the army and his first marriage. She details the family members’ deaths and Maxwell’s relationship with Tom Radney.

In the second part, Cep describes Tom Radney’s political career as a progressive Democrat in Alabama amid a climate of tense racial politics. While attending the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Radney made a series of progressive comments and angered folks in Alabama. For months, he and his family were barraged by death threats. Radney eventually withdrew from seeking election and hung up a shingle in Alexander City, though he continued to support civil rights, integration and Democratic politics.

Part three of Furious Hours brings Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, into the story. After the book’s enormous success, Lee’s writing career had stalled. In 1965, Truman Capote asked his childhood friend to help him research In Cold Blood. This experience reignited Lee’s interest in law and crime. When Lee heard about the Maxwell murders, she moved to Alexander City, attended the trial, conducted interviews, and befriended Tom Radney. She then returned to New York to start a book that she never finished. Cep looks at what happened.

Cep writes early on that there are two mysteries in her story. The first is “what would become of the man who shot the Reverend Willie Maxwell. But for decades after the verdict, the mystery was what became of Harper Lee’s book.”

I enjoyed reading how Cep connected Maxwell, Radney and Lee, about Lee’s relationship with Truman Capote and her stalled writing career. I recommend Furious Hours to readers who enjoy true crime and biographies.

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Book Review: My Brief History by Stephen Hawking

My Brief History
by
Stephen Hawking

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoyed reading this quick memoir by Stephen Hawking, the famous English theoretical physicist and cosmologist who made major contributions in theoretical physics. He was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge and the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Hawking also wrote several popular science books and a series of children’s books with his daughter. One of his most successful books was the New York Times best seller, A Brief History of Time (1988), written for the general public. The 1991 biographical documentary film of the same name is a more in-depth look at Hawking’s life. Although his scientific theories were complex, he understood the universal interest in trying to comprehend our world and its beginnings. “I wanted to explain how far I felt we had come in our understanding of the universe: how we might be near finding a complete theory that would describe the universe and everything in it.”

Hawking was born in 1942, grew up and attended Oxford and Cambridge in England. When he was twenty-one, he was diagnosed with a slow-progressing motor neuron disease. At the time of his diagnosis, Hawking was already a big thinker, but he was also young man and not entirely focused on his studies. Facing an uncertain future, he determined to devote his professional life to research and theories about black holes, time travel and other advanced physics. He married twice and had three children. Hawking died in 2018 at the age of seventy-six after a long career and numerous prestigious awards and recognitions.

Because I’m not much of a science person, I worried that Hawking’s story would be too advanced, but I was pleased to find that, although some of the scientific chapters were more difficult to follow, I could still get a good general idea about his work and theories. The book also includes a lot of interesting pictures, providing a look at the person behind the science.

At 126 pages, this memoir is indeed brief, but I was interested in what he chose to include: the descriptions of his childhood and college days, and both of his marriages. He’s very matter-of-fact about these relationships with his family and was practical about his disability. I was impressed with how he adapted to his progressing disease, which caused many secondary health problems and ultimately left him paralyzed and unable to speak. His desire to contribute to the world despite these extreme challenges helps put our smaller problems in perspective.

I recommend My Brief History to readers who enjoy understanding a little bit about the great minds that have contributed to our world.

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Book Review: The Home Place – Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

The Home Place
Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature

by
J. Drew Lanham

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The best way to describe this book is to begin with the author. J. Drew Lanham is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist. He’s also an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University. Lanham’s essays and poetry have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. The Home Place is his memoir is about growing up in rural South Carolina and how he fell in love with nature, especially birding. Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk, says it best when she describes the book as “A groundbreaking work about race and the American landscape.”

Lanham talks about growing up with his three siblings in Edgefield during the 1970s. In addition to teaching high school, his parents ran a produce farm to make ends meet. Lanham and his brother and sisters were all expected to help on the farm and it was during these times that Lanham grew to love nature and the outdoors. “All that and the land were mine back then. I was the richest boy in the word, a prince living right there in backwoods Edgefield,” he writes.

Family relationships shaped Lanham in complex ways, from a commanding father who insisted on obedience and respect, to his widowed grandmother, Mamatha, who lived in a ramshackle house on their property and where Lanham spent many of his days and nights. Mamatha practiced both traditional black Baptist Christianity and her own form of spiritualism and herbalism. Lanham also talks about his brother and sisters. In a chapter titled, “A Field Guide to the Four,” he describes his siblings and how they each represent different birds: raven, falcon, swallow and hermit thrush.

Of equal importance are his experiences of being black in the deep south and how subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices have affected him. He talks about being a black birder, a rarity, and about feeling threatened out in the field, while observing birds in their habitats. He writes, “But my choice of career and my passion for wildness means that I will forever be the odd bird, the raven in the horde of white doves, the blackbird in a flock of snow buntings.” The impact of his prose lies in its gentle assertions, which are not argumentative, but deliver a powerful message about race in America.

Lanham writes beautifully about nature and about humans being just one part of a greater world. I like that idea and relate to both the words and the sights he describes. I attended a webinar this week where Lanham was a guest speaker and I enjoyed hearing him talk about his love of birding and nature. I highly recommend this book to those who like memoirs about nature and as a field guide to treating others without prejudice.

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Book Review: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by
John Berendt

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This nonfiction novel is about a murder that took place at the historic Mercer House in Savannah, Georgia in 1980, the home of antiques dealer and historic preservationist Jim Williams. Williams, 50, was charged with shooting and killing Danny Hansford, a 21-year-old man who helped Williams with his antiques restoration business. Hansford was also a prostitute and Williams’s part-time lover. Williams was initially convicted, but various appeals and three retrials led to his ultimate acquittal in 1989. In a twist of fate, Williams died in his house eight months later, near where Hansford had fallen.

Berendt’s book was published in 1994, was an immediate best seller, won the 1995 Boeke Prize and was one of the finalists for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. It was made into a movie in 1997, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Berendt, an associate editor for Esquire, moved from New York to Savannah to research the story. He immersed himself in Savannah’s inner circle and his book describes both the people and downtown Savannah’s grand architecture which Williams and others helped to restore to its glory. I enjoyed reading about Savannah and its preserved community, which deliberately resisted commercial build-up. Like any place, Savannah had its politics, social conflicts and power-hungry people. What makes the story even more interesting are the colorful side-characters who play a role in the story, including a voodoo practitioner and Williams’s second attorney, who was a big University of Georgia fan and owner of the school’s bulldog mascot, Uga. Berendt also describes his unlikely friendships with Joe Odom, a fast-talking piano player and schemer and Chablis, a trans showgirl.

Williams himself was a fascinating character. He was well-known in Savannah, particularly for his lavish Christmas parties which were the social event of the year. Williams took particular delight in changing his guest list, removing those who weren’t worthy and adding new guests.

During the trials, Williams shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for his defense, but followed few of the details of the case, sure he would be acquitted. He was sentenced to life in prison after his first trial. While awaiting appeal, he ran his business from the local jailhouse phone, selling off antiques to pay his lawyers. With his help from jail, Williams’s mother kept Mercer House running, including hosting an elaborate luncheon for Savannah’s high society. Eventually, Williams was released and returned to business-as-usual, including hosting his annual Christmas party.

Even though this isn’t a new book, I’d recommend it for its interesting story and excellent writing. I knew nothing about Savannah and enjoyed envisioning its unique gardens and squares. I also enjoyed reading about the trials and how evidence was introduced, how the jurors reacted and how important this case was for Savannah’s new and very green district attorney.

Have you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? Have you seen the movie? Leave a comment and let me know.

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What’s That Book? Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Welcome to What’s That Book, sharing book recommendations from readers and bloggers. Today’s guest reviewer is Austin Vitelli.

Title: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Author: Anthony Bourdain

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s it about?  Anthony Bourdain provides a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to work in the food industry, highlighting many of the juicy details of what really goes on in a professional kitchen that’s surely to raise some eyebrows for those who have never worked in one. The thing is, he said he originally wrote the book specifically for chefs and figured no one else would find it relevant—almost like a series of inside jokes. But the book, which was first published in 2000, quickly became a New York Times bestseller, capturing the attention of millions of people around the world, whether they had experience in the food industry or not. It also catapulted Bourdain’s career as a “celebrity chef,” a term he begrudgingly adopted due to its negative perception.

The story itself surely captured such a wide audience for a reason—people naturally love gossip, and of course many people have a love for food. The book provides endless stories of people whom Bourdain worked with over the years, his countless jobs and relevant escapades in the industry, and most importantly, the truth about how many kitchens (at least at the time) functioned. Bourdain’s blunt and detailed-to-a-fault account of his experiences, including his battle with drug addiction, immediately establishes himself as a trustworthy storyteller. Other than a few people’s names, he basically holds nothing back. And mostly importantly, while “the times” in 2000 certainly were no stranger to sexist and otherwise questionable behavior in that industry, Bourdain still had the awareness to know that it was wrong, making sure not to glorify that type of behavior too much, even though he later worried that the book still somewhat normalized it.

How did you hear about it? I watched Bourdain’s CNN travel/food show Parts Unknown, which ran for 12 seasons until his death in 2018.

Closing comments: If you have any sort of curiosity about the food industry or what a professional kitchen looked like 20 years ago, I highly recommend this book. And if nothing else, Bourdain is one of the best non-fiction storytellers I’ve ever seen.

Contributor: Austin Vitelli is an editor for a medical publishing company in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in journalism. You can learn more about him and his writing experience at austinvitelli.com.


Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it? Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

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Book Review: Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman

Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise
by
Scott Eyman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I just finished this new biography of Cary Grant and now I’m in the mood to re-watch some of my favorite movies starring this legendary actor. Scott Eyman has written an excellent and thorough book, a detailed account of Grant’s life, beginning with his childhood in Bristol, England.

Long before he became a famous movie star and heartthrob, Cary Grant was a neglected child from a working-class family. He was Born Archibald Leach in 1904 to an alcoholic father and an overly protective and controlling mother, who one day disappeared from his life. It would be years before he learned that his father had committed her to a mental institution. Archie spent much of his youth on the street and joined a troupe of vaudeville acrobats where he learned physical comedy. He arrived in New York at sixteen and, after traveling with the Bob Pender Troupe, made his way to Hollywood, where he signed with Paramount Pictures and changed his name to Cary Grant.

Grant starred in over seventy films, including Bringing up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, An Affair to Remember, Suspicion, Notorious, North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief. His numerous famous co-stars included Ingrid Bergman, Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly, and Sophia Loren.

If you remember Cary Grant, you most likely think of him as a handsome, sophisticated and smooth-talking comedic actor and irresistible leading man, but this was a carefully crafted persona. Underneath he struggled with depression and feelings of abandonment and spent his life trying to reconcile these very different sides. He also struggled with relationships and married five times.

Grant longed to be a father and was thrilled when his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon gave birth to their daughter, Jennifer. To find inner peace, he experimented at least 100 times with LSD (when it was still legal) sometimes under a doctor’s care and other times by himself, proclaiming this was the reason he finally forgave his parents for abandoning him.

In addition to showing how Grant worked at achieving this goal, Eyman provides a history of the movie business and how it changed, from the 1930s through Grant’s retirement in 1966. Classic movie fans will enjoy reading about the greats he worked with, including talented writers and directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Donen and Leo McCarey.

Although friends and colleagues complained about his unwillingness to pick up the tab at dinner, Grant was a smart businessman who understood how to negotiate contracts and was one of the first to demand not only an actor fee, but a percent of gross and profit and ownership of the negatives. He often made deals as a free agent, an almost unheard-of arrangement.

I totally enjoyed this biography and learned a lot about Grant and the movie business during that time and I recommend it to all readers.

Here are a few quick videos about Cary Grant.

The Hidden Origin of Cary Grant – from Simon and Schuster
Cary Grant: From Vaudeville to Hollywood | BFI video essay
Cary Grant receiving an Honorary Oscar®

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