Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Who You Know That Gets Your Book Published

"Paul and Me; 53 Years of Adventures and Misadventures with My Pal Paul Newman" by A. E. Hotchner Doubleday 234 pages $26.95

Hotchner wrote "Papa Hemingway" which was published in 34 countries in 28 languages in addition to 16 other books and screenplays. He and Newman met in 1955 when Newman appeared in a movie that Hotchner had written based on a Hemingway short story. In truth, Hotchner made something of a cottage industry of his friendship with Hemingway.

Both were at the start of their careers and would never have dreamed of the success Newman's food products would bring them. Hotchner and Newman were also partners in the Hole in the Wall Gang camps for cancer-stricken kids. They lived within 10 minutes of each other in Westport, CN. A favorite occupation was fishing at which both were dismally and routinely unsuccessful.

It's an engaging little book, full of anecdotes and gives insight into Newman's character. Hotchener claims that he was the exact same person in 2008 (when he died) as he was in 1955 when they met.

"This Family of Mine; What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti" by Victoria Gotti (and I'd bet $100 a ghostwriter) Pocket Books 379 turgid pages $27

To say that Victoria is a Drama Queen is understatement. She seems to be more than slightly ego-driven paranoid (if there is such a thing) as well. Describing hotelier Leona Helmsley's kindness to family during John, Jr's marriage, Victoria wrote, "The law enforcement types who approached her and asked to infiltrate the wedding were told 'no.' She was later prosecuted for tax evasion by the government in revenge." Right, Victoria, riiiight.

Victoria's younger brother was killed by a drunk driver while riding a friend's mini-bike. His mother had warned the youngster never to ride one; they were dangerous. He did so anyhow.

Several days after the funeral the kid who loaned the bike shows up at the house and asks when are they gonna buy him a new bike? The drunk who hit the boy lived directly behind the Gotti's house. He threw a noisy, drunken barbecue in his backyard. Mrs. Gotti heard the noise, grabbed a baseball bat and, in her nightgown stormed, around the corner where she proceed to beat the up the car that killed her son. The driver wanted to know who was going to pay for the damages! Not the smartest frocks on the rack ...

Immediately after his wife beat up on the car, Gotti took the family to Florida for a rest. Purely by coincidence, during their absence the drunk driver vanished, never to be seen again, dead or alive. Victoria doesn't think Daddy had anything to do with this; it was probably a friend of her father's who avenged this insult for him.

It's entertaining enough, but it's also reading about animal behavioral patterns, too.

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