The Odd Couple (1965) – Neil Simon
I’d say that if there is an evergreen comedy of the American theater, this would be it. First published in the mid-sixties, it inspired a classic film that still holds up to this day. The play is still being produced all over the world and when you read the play again, you realize why that is. It’s just as fresh, just as brilliantly funny, as it ever was. It’s an archetypal set up and Simon delivers it with maximum impact on the funny bone. Still a masterpiece of the theater; rent the movie again and then go see it live again – it’s playing somewhere near you, I’m sure.
Mommie Dearest (1978) – Christina Crawford
This book was numbered as a biography, but when I picked it up at the library, I saw it had been filed under fiction. Somebody making a statement? I stand by the film version, or at least Dunaway’s performance, which is utterly fearless and not terrible, as people say. But reading the book makes it even harder to buy the story as Crawford tells it. Crawford’s prose is beyond terrible and there are moments where she goes off into total tangents of horrible, painful, literally embarrassing rants about her mother that, frankly, make me think that Crawford herself probably has some serious bipolar issues. I have little doubt that Crawford was probably a bad mother, but I also have little doubt that Crawford has embellished tons of details here. As hatchet jobs go, this one is less credible, more poorly written and more embarrassing to the author than to the subject. Watch the movie for a harrowing performance by Dunaway; skip the book, unless you enjoy seeing someone wallow in self-pity for two hundred pages or so.
Caught in the Middle (1997) – Gayle Roper
Somebody gave me this book. Rookie journalist moves to Amhearst, PA, gets involved in a humorous, cozy little mystery. Apparently, the first in a series, but the series will have to go on without me as I found this book completely uninteresting.
The Negotiator (2000) – Dee Henderson
A friend dropped a whole series of Dee Henderson books by my house while I was laid up with an injury and I blazed through them in pure desperation. In this one, Kate O’Malley, she of the wondrous O’Malley clan, tries to balance her work as a hostage negotiator with falling in love and coming to know Jesus. Yes, it’s one of those. What can you say about a book like this one? I’m not the target audience.
The Guardian (2001) – Dee Henderson
U.S. Marshal Marcus O’Malley, he of the wondrous O’Malley clan, is assigned to protect a beautiful young woman who just happens to be a witness in a federal murder case. Do they fall in love? They do? Is there a modicum of PG-rated suspense? There is? Does Jesus get mentioned so often He should get royalties? He does? You need to know nothing else about this book.