New Books on Hollywood and the Art Industry

Instead, you read “Finding Me” to find out how she got her courage. She doesn’t need to tell us upfront that the book grew out of her pu...

Instead, you read “Finding Me” to find out how she got her courage. She doesn’t need to tell us upfront that the book grew out of her public speaking engagements – each chapter veers toward self-discovery, and even the worst revelations (including sexual assault, domestic violence, violence , hunger, and a variety of poverty-related humiliations) come with an arrow pointing at them. Look, each chapter says, I survived and thrived. The prose from Davis’ shoulder isn’t pretty: her father, MaDaddy, was a source of terror. But he changed, and she allowed him to change places in her heart. She also brings this fierce and lucid refusal to forget and this willingness to forgive to her time in the industry. She cites the statistics and her own experiences of racism, including some self-sacrificing choices to play roles she knew were beneath her. The best parts of the book have this cross clarity; they sound like a call to arms. For fans of his craft, however, you’ll have to look elsewhere to understand the mechanics of his craft.

Likewise, you won’t find the key to Harvey Fierstein’s creative mysteries in his rousing memoir, I WAS BETTER LAST NIGHT (Knopf, 384 pp., $30), though you find boatloads of charm and gossip and sudden drops of icy water in the fury. His playwright’s mind is always taking notes and, as Fierstein says, “The jockey never remembers using a whip.” The horse never forgets. He certainly hasn’t forgotten his childhood or his time in the downtown theater scene of the 1970s and 1980s, both of which he describes in detail. These must-have chapters are covered in makeup and sweat: playing in Brooklyn, having anonymous sex in the Trucks, coming out scary (going not leaving certain types of photos around your house), late-night snacks on the Warhol Factory tab, his first drag costume, AIDS, love, crushes, heartbreak, and the first thrills of a triumphant talent.

Once we get to the greased rails part of his career — after breaking through, he made it fast and young and often — Fierstein assumes some familiarity from his reader. Thus, any neo-Harvey-phyte will have to rent “Torch Song Trilogy” and “La Cage aux Folles”; you might also want to find a bootleg of his Broadway performances in “Hairspray” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” just to get a clear understanding of what he’s talking about. He happily answers frequently asked questions (Why does Arnold have so many bunny props in “Torch Song”?), but reader beware: these may not be universally asked questions.

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Newsrust - US Top News: New Books on Hollywood and the Art Industry
New Books on Hollywood and the Art Industry
Newsrust - US Top News
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