The Divine Miss M, a.k.a. Bette Midler, is on the loose. This time invading the literary world with a hilarious book written in a style reminiscent of Around the World With Auntie Mame. Miss Midler chronicles her 1978 tour of Europe and Australia as she flirts with Frenchmen, kids around with koala bears and talks about the thrill of being a red-headed Jewish girl growing up in Honolulu. There are even a few serious passages — her uneasiness while visiting West Germany (Should we let bygones be bygones?) shows a seldom seen side of the lady.
But it is the wit and style of the Divine Miss M that sparkles on every page, and makes this tasteful tome the perfect travel companion whether you are on a train to Trenton or a plane to Paris.
A View From a Broad By Bette Midler Simon and Schuster, $12.95
Ancient fairy tales tell of princesses, castles and dragons; modern fairy tales tell of princesses, yachts and big business. Both are fun to read, and this season’s best modern fairy tale is Princess Daisy. Judith Krantz spins her heroine through a world of glitter, glamour and gold — through jewels, polo-playing princes, and haute couture. Daisy is born into the lap of luxury, but a shocking secret causes her to have to work for survival. (Oh, the horror!) So she takes on the high-powered world of New York advertising agencies and big businessmen. Like all good little princesses, Daisy is a survivor, and she hangs on till the end, where she emerges triumphant (And they lived happily ever after…)
Princess Daisy is not deathless prose. It is, however, immensely readable and the chic book to carry around this summer.
Princess Daisy By Judith Krantz Crown Books, $12.95
From playing doctor to Playboy bunnies, sex in America has fascinated the imagination. The Kinsey reports and the Masters and Johnson studies took sex out of the bedroom and into the clinic. Now Gay Talese puts it back into the bedroom where it belongs. This study on the sexual mores of modern America has enough erotica to entertain just about anyone.
Through the lives of selected individuals, including Bunny Baron, Hugh Hefner, Talese offers an overview of the sexual attitudes and behavior of our times. The author himself was massaged on New York’s 42nd Street, participated in orgies in Hollywood and played with at the Playboy mansion. To him, sex never has dimensions larger than tension and release — and that’s the thrust of Thy Neighbor’s Wife — getting it. Getting more of it, more easily, with less guilt and preferably no strings.
Thy Neighbor’s Wife By Gay Talese Doubleday, $14.95
You don’t have to keep a picture of Dolly Parton under your pillow to appreciate, Honky Tonkin — A Travel Guide to American Music, by Richard Wooton (East Woods Press, $6.95 paperback). But the book makes a case in explaining that the way to learn about the history of country music, rock and roll, and any other musical genre, is to visit its origins. The stops include Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, which, would you believe, is the capital of bluegrass music?
The National Urban Coalition has just released the first catalogue of community-based strategies aimed at preventing the displacement of longtime residents from renovating neighborhoods. Neighborhood Transition Without Displacement, a citizen’s handbook, provides case studies of neighborhood groups that have devised resources and strategies to limit displacement. The 117-page booklet also includes information on forming housing cooperatives and provides an extensive bibliography. The handbook is available for $6. Send a check to Publications, National Urban Coalition, 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Also from the Urban Coalition is a new guide, Job Training and the Schools. Produced through a Grant from the Department of Labor, the book discusses fundamental characteristics of vocational programs, and how community-based organizations and neighborhood groups can collaborate with schools in providing productive vocational education. To order a copy ($2 for five or more, free if less than five copies), write to the Coalition’s Community-Wide Employment Project, 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW,
Mother’s Helper, by Maureen Freely (Delacorte Press), has been optioned for the wide screen by Jerome Hellman, the producer of Midnight Cowboy and Coming Home. The book is a hilarious story of a progressive New England family which exposes the flip-side of the women’s liberation movement.
While on the subject of sex and sexism, Casey Miller and Kate Swift have published a landmark style manual, The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing. ($8.95, Lippincott & Crowell). The book contains both theory and practice in eliminating difficulties and awkwardness inherent in removing sexism from language — person hole covers and work person like being two of thousands of unappealing constructions. The manual makes special efforts to maintain the tradition of all language arbiters: language must be both comfortable to write or speak, and clear in connotation. Incidentally, manual has no relationship whatsoever to the male sex; like manager, manufacture, manipulate, etc., it is derived from the latin manus, meaning hand!
Spurred by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, Dell Books has published Island on Fire: A True Saga by Joseph Hayes ($2.50). Hayes was visiting Iceland when the volcano on the Island of Heinay erupted. He conducted extensive research and interviews on the incident and incorporated them into a novel of love and valor in the face of stark tragedy.