Richard Roeper is a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and co-host of Ebert and Roeper. His book Hollywood Urban Legends (New Page Books, $14) is now in paperback.
The Desert Rose by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster, $12). As much as I appreciate McMurtry’s Westerns, I’m an even bigger fan of his slice-of-life character studies, including The Last Picture Show, Horseman, Pass By (filmed as Hud), and Terms of Endearment. But my favorite is the lesser-known The Desert Rose, the story of an aging Vegas showgirl and her beautiful but increasingly difficult daughter. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking.
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (Bantam Books, $8) and The Devil’s Candy by Julie Salamon (Da Capo Press, $18). First read Wolfe’s brilliant social satire of a New York that now seems almost quaint—a place where money and power and wealth and being thin meant everything. Then read Salamon’s juicy and well-reported account of how Wolfe’s wonderfully cinematic novel was turned into a dreadful film starring Tom Hanks, Melanie Griffith, and Bruce Willis, all hopelessly miscast.
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Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 2) by Robert Caro (Vintage, $19). The second volume of Caro’s definitive biography of Lyndon Johnson details L.B.J.’s run for the Senate in 1948—a race he won by 87 votes out of a million cast. Caro reveals L.B.J. to be one of the most fascinating and complex characters in modern American politics. A snake, a charmer, a bully, and a consummate politician.
The Dreyfus Affair by Peter Lefcourt (HarperCollins, $14). Lefcourt ranks with Carl Hiassen as the best comic novelists of their generation. In this brave and knowing satire, a beloved All-Star shortstop with the perfect wife and the perfect public image falls in love—with his team’s second baseman.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
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