Archive for the ‘celebrity’ Category

The Books Behind the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes kick off later tonight and beyond the red carpet gowns, the gushing acceptance speeches, and the dazzling wit of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (fingers crossed!), are the books behind the big screen.

twelve-years-a-slave-book-cover-01-379x60012 Years a Slave: This film is based on the true story — and memoir — of Solomon Northup’s harrowing tale of being kidnapped as a free man in New York and sold into slavery; an experience he endured for twelve years. The official subtitle of the book is: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana. This book was published in 1853, just one year after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and was considered a bestseller at 30,000 copies sold.


davevanronkjpg-180e60ab9156d544Inside Llewyn Davis: This Coen Brothers movie is actually based on the memoir of Dave Van Ronk titled, “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.” Published posthumously, the book recounts the folk music revival of the 1960s and Van Ronk’s role in said revival. While the era and platform for the movie are largely tied to elements of the book, both are worth examining separately. If you love the movie you will adore this book.

9781401310448_p0_v5_s260x420Captain Phillips: This Somali Pirate thriller is widely known to be based on true events, but the book is called, “A Captain’s Duty” and tells the story of the ship’s hijacking from Richard Phillips firsthand. The book jumps between Captain Phillips’ experience at the mercy of Somali hijackers and what his family in Vermont suffered watching the events unfold through the news. As a real-life event the story is excruciating, and the film offers a wonderful rendition. However as many of us know, nothing beats the book.


philomena-bookPhilomena: This Best-Drama-nominated film is based on a true story — and book — about a pregnant teenager in Ireland in the 1950s whose child was “sold” into US adoption at the age of three. As the movie and book both recall, Philomena was coerced into signing a document giving up any rights to the child, in addition to tying her to an agreement that said she, “Never to Seek to Know” anything about the boy. Renamed Michael Hess, Philomena’s child grew up to be a prestigious lawyer and work for the Bush administration. The story doesn’t stop there, and movie-lovers will enjoy the books rendition of two lives torn apart.

B1595_RushGlory_DRush: The book told the story before the film and is titled, “Rush to Glory: Formula 1 Racing’s Greatest Rivalry.” The story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt is familiar to Formula 1 fans, but to the rest of the world this bitter rivalry is edge-of-your-seat excitement waiting to be consumed. Two of racing’s best drivers approach success and excellence in very different ways and both are vying for the title of World Champion. Those who enjoyed the Senna documentary will no doubt love this tale, as will anyone who appreciates a story rich in personality, danger, speed, and wonderfully flawed characters.

Book Review: What Remains by Carole Radziwill

Full disclosure. I learned about What Remains¬†while watching the Real Housewives of New York. (Absorb this for a moment. Okay, let’s move on.)¬†Carole is by far the most normal woman on the show, by which I mean she treats people with common decency and seems to have impeccable manners. She’s the Housewife I’d most like to have dinner with, unless that dinner was taking place on New Year’s Eve and it was time to get rowdy, in which case I’d pick Ramona… or Sonja. Let’s be real: you’d all pick Ramona or Sonja. But I digress. Carole dated John Kennedy’s cousin, and was besties with Carolyn. (She’s one of those not-normal, normal people.) I learned about her memoir and the events within the book from the show, and before I even considered reading it, I was scoffing. I haven’t taken a Real Housewife seriously as a person, ever, and her mere presence on the BRAVO network didn’t bode well for changing such impressions. Still, curiosity sparked as to whether the book was good, bad, or terrible (I had placed my bets somewhere in the latter category) and when a friend, and then another friend told me they enjoyed it, I inched closer to a copy. This is also Radziwill’s first published book, making her a debut author and (gasp!) a candidate for our review series. And while yes, we most commonly review literary fiction (please note, however, our own collection has a gorgeous nonfiction essay by Erica Sklar), after reading this book I needed the emotional cleanse of reviewing it here.

This is when I tell you I really liked this book.

Carole was a journalist for ABC and her writing is reminiscent of newsy prose. It’s succinct, easy to read, and her thoughts turn over beautifully. Considering how emotionally charged the subject matter — she lost her two best friends in a plane crash and then her husband to cancer within weeks of each other — Radziwill’s thoughts on cancer and loss are poignant without being preachy. Sure, there were moments at the start of the book that felt tinged with ego. The sense that as a reader I was receiving a nostalgic view of her upbringing and the start of her career in New York to enhance the effect of the drama that unfolds later. But soon I settled in with Carole, and really began to appreciate the emotional bravery of her story. The amount of loss Radziwill incurred is harrowing, and I applaud her for such a beautiful account of it. In fact, I’m slightly ashamed of how harshly I judged the book before starting. The fact of the matter is this, Radizwill’s memoir glitters and shines. It will make you cry. If there’s been cancer in your life, you must read it.