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Sunday, September 18, 2016

365 Groovy Books Worth Reading #41 - 50

Today I continue my list of 365 Groovy Books Worth Reading (in random order). Click here for the previous 40 books - and click on a title for more information or to purchase a copy:

41) Debbie: My Life (1988) by Debbie Reynolds (and David Patrick Columbia)
Kirkus Reviews called this candid autobiography "one of the munchiest reads of the season" in which Debbie reveals the real story of her marriage to Eddie Fisher and his love affair with Elizabeth Taylor.

42) Wishful Drinking (2008) by Carrie Fisher
Twenty years after the publication of her mother's memoir, Fisher wrote her own, in which she talks about her struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction and mental breakdowns - as well as having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother.

43) Lives of the Circus Animals (2003) by Christopher Bram
This amusing novel, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction in 2003, is about New York theater people: actors, writers, personal assistants, and a drama critic for the New York Times.

44) The Great TV Sitcom Book (1980) by Rick Mitz
Everything you ever wanted to know about TV sitcoms - up to 1980. Mitz chooses his "Front Runners" for each season, which include I Love Lucy (1951-52), Bewitched (1964-65), The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-71), Maude (1972-73), Rhoda (1974-75) and Laverne and Shirley (1975-76). However, there are many more "Also Rans" featured for each season, which include Petticoat Junction (1963-64), That Girl (1966-67), The Doris Day Show (1968-69), The Brady Bunch (1969-70), The Partridge Family (1970-71) and Soap (1977-78).

45) My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir (1995) by Shirley MacLaine
The Academy Award-winning actress (Terms of Endearment) reminisces about her forty years in show business, including her affairs with Robert Mitchum, Danny Kaye and Yves Montand.

46) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1968) by Pauline Kael
This second book by one of my favorite film critics covers her 1965-67 reviews of such movies as Georgy Girl, Bonnie and Clyde, Madame X, Doctor Zhivago and The Sound of Music.

47) Rich Man, Poor Man (1970) by Irwin Shaw
Originally published as a short story in Playboy in 1969, this long and richly satisfying novel tells the tale of the three Jordache children - Gretchen, Rudolph and Thomas (and it was adapted into a wonderful ABC miniseries in 1976).

48) The Mary Hartman Story (1976) by Daniel Lockwood
This $1.75 paperback tells "the most fabulous, fantastic, far-out story" of "the most incredible TV phenomenon ever" - Norman Lear's 1976-77 syndicated soap opera, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

49) Faggots (1978) by Larry Kramer
When it was first published, this book's portrayal of promiscuous sex and drug use in the gay community upset many people, but I tend to believe that Kramer's "outrageously raunchy and uproariously funny" (Library Journal) novel paints an honest picture of what gay life was like before the AIDS crisis - at least in New York City.

50) Happiness is a Sad Song (1967) by Charles M. Schulz
"Happiness is being too sick to go to school, but not too sick to watch TV" is one of the featured tidbits of wisdom from the Peanuts gang.


Alan Scott said...

Sorry, Marc, but "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" was SO NOT the most incredible TV phenomenon ever. It was boring and dull. There are so many more shows on television, even mediocre ones, that were much, much, much better.

Marc Harshbarger said...

Hey, Alan, the TV phenomenon quote is from the back of the book, not my own words. But Mary Hartman was a surprising phenomenon back in 1976 - it was featured on the cover of Newsweek and Rolling Stone. And although I agree that there are better shows, I still think Mary is very funny.

joel65913 said...

More literary goodness.

LOVED Debbie's first book, what a life! And what a terrible judge of men!!!

Those compilation book like the sitcom one are variable but the good ones are endlessly fascinating.

I really enjoyed Rich Man, Poor Man and the miniseries was a dream for a movie/TV watcher like me. Peter Strauss, Susan Blakely and Nolte were wonderful but for me the main pull when it premiered was that sensational supporting cast. I've watched it again since and while the look of it has dated a bit the thrill of seeing all those great performers pulled together in one show hasn't dimmed a bit.

Marc Harshbarger said...

Joel, I agree with you about the Rich Man, Poor Man miniseries - it does have a dated look to it now, but all the performances - both lead and supporting - couldn't be better. Thanks for your comment!