I still remember the first time I saw Steve Martin perform. He made me laugh so hard and left such an indelible impression I can only compare it to the moment I saw Michael Jackson moonwalk on TV. Martin’s material was fresh; a real departure from traditional stand up comedy. His autobiography isn’t new and I’m not sure what made me grab it but I’m very glad I did. Martin is a terrific writer which is probably the backbone of his success as a comedian. I’ve read many rags to riches stories over the years, but none manage to convey as well the Herculean effort it takes to make it in the entertainment field. Martin spent years on the road, learning his craft and honing his act. He provides in this book a visceral sense of just how awful it can be to tour, a lonely hardscrabble lifestyle which I could never endure. He also paints a very vivid picture of what it’s like to go from obscurity to “instant” stardom, and why, at the height of his stand up success, he chose to walk away. As a child, Martin had a very contentious relationship with his father. Their reconnection at the end of the book made me cry.
Four girls, best friends, are about to spend their first summer apart in this charming Young Adult novel. Just before they separate, they find a magical pair of jeans which unbelievably fits each of them perfectly. The jeans are passed back and forth all summer as the girls deal with their issues. Shy, beautiful Lena travels to Greece to visit her grandparents and learns to assert herself when she falls in love with a boy despite a family feud. Bridget, the athlete, goes to soccer camp where she pursues one of her coaches romantically, trying to find love in the wake of her mother’s death. Cynical Tibby, left at home, develops an unlikely friendship with a younger girl with leukemia who teaches her life might not be so bad. Carmen visits her father only to discover he is about to remarry a women with two teenagers very different from her and her Puerto Rican mom. Carmen’s journey is about self-acceptance. This heart-warming tale was made into a movie, launching careers for all the actresses.
This is a non-fiction book about the treatment of a woman for multiple personality disorder. “Sybil” suffers extreme childhood abuse which causes her to separate into sixteen different “alters.” She has huge memory gaps given the differing personalities in charge. With help from her psychiatrist, these selves gradually become co-conscious, ending with Sybil’s integration as a whole person with full knowledge of past and present. The book was wildly successful when published, spawning two movies, and an upsurge in cases of reported dissociative identity disorder. However, it remains highly controversial as critics suggest Sybil was a simple hysteric, manipulated for profit by her psychiatrist. They cite tapes in which the psychiatrist is heard describing to Sybil her personalities. They also suggest the fabrication of material to protect her identity does not constitute a proper case history as would appear in a peer-reviewed journal. Supporters claim critics left out important facts, distorted evidence and didn’t reveal certain information until all the principles were dead. Whatever your opinion, the book remains a truly fascinating read!