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Category Archive for 'United States'

Rusty Redburn, the narrator who directs the traffic of this exciting and busy book, never expects, when she goes to Hollywood in the early 1940s, that she will end up as a spy for Columbia Pictures. Harry Cohn, President of Columbia, wants to keep tabs on every aspect of the life of “Rita Hayworth” (Margarita Carmen Cansino), his shy and most mistrustful star. As author Jerome Charyn traces the real life of this glamorous film star, he is able to convey the male dominated film business and its demeaning of its female stars. Two of Rita’s five marriages – to Orson Welles (1943 – 1947) and to Prince Aly Khan (1949 – 1953) – are keys to understanding Rita Hayworth, and author Jerome Charyn presents them with sympathy for Rita and a broad knowledge of Hollywood, Rita’s films, the men with whom she starred in films, her lovers, and the film world milieu of the mid-1940s and 1950s. Rita Hayworth had roles in twenty-four films between 1940, when she was twenty-two, and 1958, when she had her fortieth birthday. Her two last appearances were in 1971, on the Carol Burnett Show and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

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“In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two thieves gained entry to the Gardner Museum and stole 13 works of art by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, Degas, and other artists. The works including Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, his only known seascape, and Vermeer’s The Concert, are worth more than $500 million. The Gardner heist remains [to this day] the biggest unsolved art theft in history.” Though more than thirty years have passed since this crime, no one has forgotten it. As recently as the winter of 2022, new clues were being assessed, and hopes of finding the missing artworks have not waned. Written by the staff of the Gardner Museum, and others highly familiar with the robbery, the emphasis is on the artworks themselves, with photographs of the missing artworks as the focus. The museum is offering a reward of $10 million for information leading to the discovery of the stolen works.

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Following the narrative pattern of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, author Jillian Cantor focuses primarily on three young women, all of whom appear in the Gatsby book. Three “Gatsby women,” all originally from Louisville, Kentucky, are the main focus here: Daisy, who becomes the wife of the almost impossibly wealthy Tom Buchanan; Jordan Baker, Daisy’s close friend, a golfer who is on the tour though accused in a major scandal; and Catherine McCoy, a lesser developed character who attends women’s suffrage meetings and who is the sister of Myrtle Wilson, a married woman who is profiting from her role as the secret lover of Tom Buchanan. Their stories rotate throughout, often overlap, and provide the structure of the novel. At the same time, a new character, Detective Frank Charles from New York, appears at key points in 1922, after the death of Jay Gatsby, as he investigates that death, the characters associated with Gatsby, and the clues that have developed, including the discovery of a diamond hair pin at the murder scene. While Beautiful Little Fools is certainly not a feminist tract, it does illustrate how different the outcomes might have been in Fitzgerald’s Gatsby if the position of women, their own expectations, the expectations of them by others, and the culture in which they lived had been significantly different.

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In her latest study of an animal species, Audrey Schulman focuses on dolphins, their intelligence, their verbalization, their relationships with humans and each other, and the possibility that they may be able to initiate communication with humans if they and the humans can evolve a common language.  Set in St. Thomas, and based on research done in the mid-1960s (and continuing to the present), her main character, Cora, lives with the dolphins and eventually focuses on a particular one, with whom she shares a “homearium,” living in the dry section of the building, while “Junior” lives in the sea section, which overlaps with it. Fascinating work involving animal behavior and speech.

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Author Lily King, a widely honored author of novels, has just published her first collection of stories, Five Tuesdays in Winter, and what a collection it is. Filled with references to famous writers and their writing, the collection also features the writing of her own characters, such as a young teen writing diary entries and imagining life events, and a young mother trying to find time to examine life and write while taking care of a toddler. Throughout, King herself conveys the urgency of creation through stories so intense and so genuine that this book makes her own creations “blow past all the fixed boundaries of art – of life.” There is an intimacy to her stories which brings them to life in new ways, whether they be stories featuring a teenage babysitter, a shy older man who begins to experience real love for the first time, an attentive mother spoiling her selfish daughter, or characters both gay and straight as they realize who they are. Some characters here are disturbed, some are fun-loving, and at least one is a ghost, but virtually all the main characters are appealing as they deal with life’s twists and turns, and Lily King allows the reader to connect with them all.

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