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  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2017/03/31 Permalink
    Tags: alec baldwin, , caitlyn jenner, ,   

    April’s Best New Biographies and Memoirs 

    Though it sometimes feels as though the daily news gives us all the non-fiction we can take, there’s always room for a well-written memoir or biography. April welcomes books in a variety of styles for all different tastes, whether you’re fascinated by figures in the worlds of rock music, sports, cooking, movie, TV, or even royalty. Here are the ones we’re looking forward to the most.

    Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, by Mayte Garcia
    Few celebrities have been so beloved and ubiquitous, yet remained as mysterious as the late Prince Rogers Nelson, better known (of course) as Prince. This memoir from the legendary musician’s first wife tells of the long romance between the two, which began when Garcia, an artist herself, was hired as a dancer during the Diamonds and Pearls era, circa 1990. After the two were married, a rare congenital defect took the life of their only child and, at least in part, brought about the end of the relationship. Fans desperate to learn more about Prince a year after his untimely death will savor this book, which promises to provide a nuanced portrait rather than mere gossip.

    Note to Self, by Connor Franta
    YouTube megastar Franta follows up his last bestselling memoir, A Work in Progress with a new book that he promises will be more introspective. Through short stories, letters, and poetry, Franta exposes his struggles with clinical depression and anxiety, as well as with coming out and with searching for authenticity in an online world.

    Nevertheless: A Memoir, by Alec Baldwin
    It’s not Badwin’s first memoir, exactly, but it’s the first to cover the full scope of his life and career (A Promise to Ourselves was about parenting through divorce). The legendary actor from the famous family has made a new name for himself over the last few years by moving into comedy and, most recently, through his Donald Trump impression for Saturday Night Live. Baldwin digs deep in this candid memoir to talk about the public peaks and valleys, as well as about the private man.

    This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, by Gabourey Sidibe
    The Oscar-nominated actress seemed to come from nowhere when she made her acclaimed appearance in Les Daniels’ 2009 film Precious. But, of course, nobody comes from nowhere. Sidibe discusses her Bed-Stuy/Harlem family upbringing with a polygamous father and a mom who made money by singing in the subway, as well as her surprising and sometimes unsettling rise to fame in a world that didn’t always seem ready for her. Now an actress on the hit Empire, Gabby also talks about race, body image, and fashion with the same wit and style that made her a star.

    The Secrets of My Life, by Caitlyn Jenner
    Whatever your feelings about Caitlyn Jenner, there’s no denying her journey over the past couple of years has been eye-opening for many, as she’s lived out her transition very much in the public eye. In this new book, Jenner talks about her life and athletic career, the Kardashian clan, and offers revealing insights into her life and journey.

    Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, by Sally Bedell Smith
    If history plays out as is expected, Prince Charles will someday become King Charles III of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Now 68, he’ll be the oldest English monarch to ascend to the throne, and he’ll do so after a full life that’s not been without controversy. He’ll be moving into a job that most people alive in the world today have only ever seen held by one woman. Sally Bedell Smith, veteran writer of royal biographies, presents the first extensive work on Charles’ life in decades, making the case that the Prince of Wales is far more interesting and compelling than the caricatures would suggest.

    Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, by Jason Zinoman
    Though there’s been a bit of a resurgence in late-night programming, there’s no doubt that Letterman’s retirement left an enormous void, and signaled the end of an era. New York Times comedy critic Zinoman details Letterman’s life, but focuses especially on his career and legacy, particularly the origins and influences that shaped the influential comedian.

    My Mother’s Kitchen: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and the Meaning of Life, by Peter Gethers
    This unique and charming non-fiction work is, in one sense, about Judy Gethers, daughter of a legendary restauranteur who had herself a passion for cooking that lead her to develop friendships with some of America’s most famous chefs and to write bestselling cookbooks. More than that, it’s the story of her son, Peter, who wants to create one last perfect meal for his mother, featuring all of her favorite dishes. Except that he doesn’t really know how to cook. Misadventures ensue that are equally moving and funny.

    Change of Seasons: A Memoir, by John Oates and Chris Epting
    Though one half of the world’s most successful rock duo, John Oates’ story has never really been told. It’s not a traditional rock & roll memoir, in that Oates life has been less about sex and drugs than about crafting good music and navigating trends. It’s the story of one of the biggest names in the business, as well as the story of popular music over the last 40 years.

    Between Them: Remembering My Parents, by Richard Ford
    Ford has written several bestselling novels and many short stories, but this book is his first memoir. In it, Ford works to uncover the lives of his parents: rural Arkansans who lived and raised their child on the road. Going beyond the facts of their lives, Ford looks to reconstruct their hopes and dreams, writing not just a biography, but a book about how we view our parents.

    Whose story most intrigues you?

    The post April’s Best New Biographies and Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 1:52 pm on 2017/03/29 Permalink
    Tags: alec baldwin, , , , , , , truth teller   

    In Nevertheless, Alec Baldwin Makes His Brand Brutal Honesty 

    On the third page of Alec Baldwin’s unvarnished new memoir, Nevertheless, he startles you with this: “I’m not actually writing this book to discuss my work, my opinions, or my life…I’m writing it because I was paid to write it.” That’s all the heads up you get that this isn’t your typical memoir. Yes, Baldwin does discuss his opinions, his work, and his life, but where memoirs often selectively reveal details designed to support a “branded” version of the author, Baldwin barrels through stories about his life with a raw intensity that really is “warts and all.” It’s a fascinating ride through a fascinating life and brain, and as you read you slowly begin to realize Baldwin isn’t hiding anything—nothing is off limits, even when it doesn’t make the revered actor look great.

    Childhood Miseries
    His statement about writing the book for money prefaces a lengthy section about his childhood growing up on Long Island, where his family’s continual lack of money caused immense stress in his home life. Baldwin’s descriptions of his childhood and teenage years are alternately heartbreaking and surprising. He describes his difficult early relationship with his mother, who struggled to accept the path her life took and an increasingly distant husband, and his complex relationship with his father, who was often shut off from his family emotionally. He talks about his early realization that he needed to earn money in order to do the things he wanted, and how that shaped—and harmed—his acting career. Most remarkably, he talks about going through his teenage years in a sort of haze, with almost zero memory of high school, of football practices, of anything.

    His Career
    Baldwin is compulsively self-deprecating about his skills as an actor. He frequently describes costars as brilliant and awe-inspiring, while considering his own work to be competent at best—and usually elevated by the amazing people around him. His acting career almost seems to have happened largely by accident; he was offered a role in a soap opera without even really trying, got an agent as a result, and within a few years is in California was being offered development deals by TV networks. Baldwin’s open about his insecurities—and about the bad decisions he made, largely for paychecks, that he now believes helped kill his chances to be a leading man. It’s rare for a hugely successful celebrity to admit they have so many regrets, and Baldwin’s honesty is thrilling.

    Inside Baseball
    Baldwin walks us through some of the more exciting moments in his professional career, too. He discusses being pushed out of the Jack Ryan movies after The Hunt for Red October, describing how he was outmaneuvered by a studio that wanted Harrison Ford’s box office pull (and Baldwin’s description of Ford is hilariously insulting). He also discusses the time he was sued by the studio while making the film The Edge with Anthony Hopkins, and his experience at Kim Basinger’s side when she was sued for breach of contract over Boxing Helena. And peppered between those big stories are a hundred smaller anecdotes—about working with specific people and the often dismaying day to day business of working in film, television, and theater. Through it all Baldwin is remarkably generous—most of his collaborators are described in glowing terms, and he falls in love with every other actor, actress, producer, or writer he meets. Baldwin name-checks plenty of below-the-line folks who are often forgotten in memoirs like this one, and doesn’t shy away from telling stories about producers who came on to him when he was a young actor, or giving us a brutally depressing blow-by-blow about the time he overdosed on cocaine and his struggles with sobriety ever since. He digs into his public mistakes, from the infamous voicemail he left his daughter, Ireland, to his often violent run-ins with photographers and tabloid reporters. In each, he offers explanations, but no excuses.

    The Big Picture
    Every life is a matrix of relationships, and Baldwin goes all in on both his marriage to Kim Basinger and where he thinks it went wrong, and touches on the bitter divorce battle that ensued and his positions on father’s rights and how he thinks the modern court system is broken—but only touches on them, because he has gone into much greater (and equally honest) detail on both in his book A Promise to Ourselves. He’s also surprisingly candid about his political stance and aspirations, referring several times to his desire early in life to go into politics, and admitting that he still contemplates running for office and has been approached in the past, most notably about running for mayor of New York City.

    Most remarkably, Baldwin uses one of his book’s last chapters to go into detail about his political beliefs and his experiences as an activist, a fundraiser, and an operative over the last few decades—a chapter that seems to be heading toward a major revelation as he builds the case that he has been plugged-in and politically active. Then he pulls back to ruefully discuss the most recent election and how he reacted to it. His concluding chapters discuss second chances, because Alec Baldwin is clearly a man who understands that he’s made many mistakes, and isn’t completely certain he deserves another shot.

    That sort of brutal honesty makes this one of the most remarkable memoirs you’ll read. Read it for the stories about working with Al Pacino, read it for the observations about the art of acting, or just read it for the hilarious joke that gives the book its title, or to find out what music will be played at Alec Baldwin’s funeral.

    Nevertheless hits shelves April 4, and is available for pre-order now.

    The post In Nevertheless, Alec Baldwin Makes His Brand Brutal Honesty appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2017/03/22 Permalink
    Tags: alec baldwin, , , , , ,   

    6 Memoirs You Can’t Help Reading in the Author’s Voice 

    When it comes to famous people writing their memoirs, there are two basic categories: those who you know on some level are famous, but whose appearance escapes you, and those whose names immediately elicit an overriding urge to perform an impersonation. When those people—like the six on this list—write a memoir, you can’t help but hear them speaking in your head as you read.

    Nevertheless, by Alec Baldwin
    Baldwin’s been acting for more than three decades, and while the precise shape of his career has gone from impossibly handsome leading man to impossibly hilarious comic actor, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the menacing rasp of his voice. While he once used his voice—like a peaty Scotch—to play villains and smooth heroes, in recent years he’s used it to sell outrageous comedic line readings, or abandoned it altogether to mimic President Trump on Saturday Night Live. You can’t but imagine Baldwin whispering in your ear as you read about his professional highs and lows, his personal struggles with addiction, and his political thoughts and ambitions.

    Leonard, by Willliam Shatner
    Thanks to his signature staccato delivery, Shatner will forever be on everyone’s celebrity impersonation list. He developed that style very deliberately as a young stage actor, seeking a way to stand out and hold the audience’s attention. While it’s easy to mock, it’s also undeniably effective, bringing drama and propulsion to any line, simply because he stops when you expect him to rush forward and rushes forward when you expect him to stop. That unpredictability is what has made him iconic, and as you read his tender, grieving account of his five-decade friendship with Leonard Nimoy, you’ll find yourself involuntarily slipping into that stilted, jerky way of speaking.

    Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
    Trevor Noah has not only leaped onto the national stage by taking on the hosting duties for The Daily Show, he’s published a fascinating memoir about his childhood and young adult years in South Africa. Born as the result of an illegal interracial relationship in the final years of apartheid, Noah is equal parts hilarious and serious as he recounts his prank-filled childhood in a poor, violence-plagued neighborhood. If you’ve seen even one episode of The Daily Show, or any of his standup comedy work, his gentle South African accent imbues every word in the book. Because there are so few South African celebrities in the USA, Noah’s accent is unusual enough to stick with you, ringing in your ears as you read.

    Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
    Springsteen’s gravelly voice, monotone delivery, and Jersey accent are distinct pieces of his persona; he’s always sounded like that guy in a Jets jersey who’s been sitting at the corner bar for the last hundred years or so, ready to throw down on any issue—politics, culture, whether you can get good pizza anywhere but New York and New Jersey (you cannot). That down-to-earth attitude has always been part of Springsteen’s appeal as the bard of the working class, and when you read his fascinating journey from teenager, to struggling musician in danger of losing his recording contract, to rock superstar, you’ll hear his voice rasping in your head.

    An American Life, by Ronald Reagan
    The Great Communicator had one of the most distinctive speaking voices in history; people who weren’t even alive when he was president can break out a Reaganesque “Well…” Reagan’s style was so distinct, it leaps off the page of this memoir from the first word, and whatever your politics there’s something incredibly comforting about imagining the Gipper sitting in your living room, telling you his life story in the warm, gregarious style that first made him a film and television star, and later, an era-defining politician. The fact that Regan’s life was one of the most interesting and unpredictable in history is just a bonus.

    The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher
    The world lost a treasure when Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016—not only an iconic actor who defined one of the most famous roles in science fiction and fantasy, but a sharp-witted writer who turned her tumultuous life into hilarious, heartbreaking stories. When reading her various memoirs, you can’t help but hear the sharply-enunciated, lip-glossed diction of Princess Leia, who somehow bit off lines like “Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, Nerf-herder!” with elegant fury. As she grew older, Fisher’s fury subsided into a world-weary, gimlet-eyed wit, but that voice, and the way she seemed to carve every consonant out of diamond, is what you’re going to hear when you read her words.


    The post 6 Memoirs You Can’t Help Reading in the Author’s Voice appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: alec baldwin, , , , ,   

    5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read Alec Baldwin’s Memoir Nevertheless 

    Eventually, everyone famous writes a memoir, in part because famous people do tend to lead interesting lives, and in part because publishers know those memoirs will sell because readers want the inside scoop on being famous. The entertainment value of these memoirs varies widely, of course, from rote tellings to revealing journeys into the lives and minds of  flat-out hilarious, fascinating people.

    Alec Baldwin’s forthcoming memoir, Nevertheless, promises to be among the latter. In fact, it has been climbing up our “Can’t Wait to Read” lists for months now. With its April 4 release just around the corner, here’s why we’re counting down the days till we can get the book in our hands.

    The Zeitgeist
    Baldwin has been part of the entertainment landscape for decades now—he’s one of the most recognizable actors in the world, with of the most recognizable voices in the world, alongside an acting resume a mile long. From a humble childhood on Long Island he went on to soap operas, was at one time one of the hottest leading men in movies, and then became a surprise candidate for Funniest Man Alive. He resurfaced as one of pop culture’s most visible figures with his slaying impersonation of President Trump on Saturday Night Live, which just reminds us how funny the man is—a brand of funny we expect will be all over his memoir.

    The Stories
    The thing about Alec Baldwin? He has worked with everybody. His IMDB page looks like a Who’s Who of Hollywood, which means he has got a treasure trove of gossip and tales of adventure to share. Even the title of his memoir, Nevertheless, stems from a joke Michael Gambon (whom you might know as the second Dumbledore from the Harry Potter films, among many other roles) told Baldwin when they were working on the TV movie Path to War together. Considering Baldwin is one of the best talk-show guests of all time, owing in part to his endless font of intimate insider trivia, we fully expect to read some great tales out of school.

    The Many Facets of Baldwin
    Put bluntly, Alec Baldwin is fascinating. When he first became a star it was easy to dismiss him as a very pretty man with a great voice, but over time it has become clear what a layered performer he is. He initially intended to go into politics, and still occasionally hints at a political run (which seems more viable than ever these days). He has had struggles with drugs and alcohol and has admitted that sobriety is challenging to him. He’s outspoken and has had plenty of public embarrassments stemming from his temper and the occasional ill-advised public comment. Nevertheless promises to dig into his family dramas—and considering his brothers are also actors, that ought to be really, really interesting.

    He’s Surprising—and a Surprisingly Good Writer
    Nevertheless isn’t Baldwin’s first book—that would be 2008’s A Promise to Ourselves, which topped the bestseller lists. That book was a surprise: instead of a wide-ranging memoir or something light and designed to move units, it focused on Baldwin’s experiences in his bitter divorce, and his thoughts on how the process could be improved. He admitted to many mistakes during the process, and shared the moments in which he chose to retreat instead of fight because he thought it best for his kids. The book proved Baldwin isn’t predictable, so who knows what he’s going to reveal or what surprisingly deep point he’s going to make?

    He’s Hilarious
    Actors often seem wittier and smarter than they are because they’re always reading someone else’s dialogue—but Baldwin’s the real deal, hilarious and smart. He’s lived a lot in his 58 years, and he seems to be self-aware about it, the two main requirements for an excellent memoir—in fact, the only requirements. We’re adding this one to the top of our April reading list.

    The post 5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read Alec Baldwin’s Memoir Nevertheless appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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