Michael Chabon carefully steers Wonder Boys — about a washed-up writer/English teacher, his precariously employed New York editor, and a gloomy prodigy from one of his writing classes — clear of a too-tweedy result.
If the title of Chabon’s second novel (Villard, $23) seems presumptuous, the book’s first pages leave little doubt of its aptness. And the wonder of Chabon, author of 1988’s critically acclaimed The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and 1991’s short story collection A Model World, is his deft, seamless prose-a gift he applies, with equal care and patience, to the rendering of an ordinary suburban home and to the dreaded ”midnight disease,” the curse that holds all writers.
At the time of his death in 1982, Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould hadn’t performed publicly in roughly 18 years, an absence reflecting his iconoclastic views on the artist’s social responsibility (none) and on technology (that is, the imminent obsolescence of the concert hall). As dramatized in this smart, rapturously scored film, Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, these views led him to a life of eccentric semi-reclusion and artistic experimentation.
SLEEP WITH ME Eric Stoltz, Meg Tilly(1994, MGM/UA, R, priced for rental) Despite its provocative title, this love-triangle story of two best friends, Joseph (Stoltz) and Frank (Craig Sheffer), vying for the same woman, Sarah (Tilly), is surprisingly passionless. Sarah, supposedly torn between two lovers, never seems to have much love for either of them – not even the one she marries early on.
Not only did this star-studded film by Bruce Beresford, director of the Academy Award-winning Driving Miss Daisy, pass through theaters virtually unnoticed, it’s every bit as limp as its poor box office might have suggested.
From America’s most-wanted killer writers comes this lively, deadly concoction of contemporary pulp fiction — the genuine article. In Murder Is My Business, seventeen tales, including one each by the collection’s editors, skulk along the queasy, ulcerous underbelly of murder for hire, exploring the moral transaction that is a contract hit, as well as the myriad human flaws correctable only through another’s death: professional jealousy, political puppetry, and, of course, escape from an unhappy marriage.
The bride wore a purple cocktail dress, no shoes, and one of America’s favorite smiles; the groom, a jacket and one of America’s favorite snarls. The 10-minute ceremony at music publisher Don Kirshner’s Camden, N.J., home was preceded by a high-speed car chase to elude reporters, but when the smoke cleared on Dec. 1, 1960, Bobby Darin, 24, and 16-year-old Sandra Dee were man and wife.
He didn’t sing or dance, he wasn’t a movie star, and he was in, of all places, Philadelphia. But when Dick Clark, 26, went before WFIL-TV’s cameras on July 9, 1956, to host America’s hottest after-school dance party, one of America’s biggest teen idols was born.
In the wake of his 1993 cult triumph, Tribal Thunder, surf-rock legend Dick Dale rides again on the kitschy, reverb-guitar twang he pioneered in the late ’50s, with this new album, Unknown Territory. While the wave-crest glory of ”Terra Dicktyl” and ”The Beast” steer this odd set clear of a wipeout, landlocked listeners may find this mostly instrumental Territory off-limits. ”Hava Nagila” as a surf tune? Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… C
Richard Pryor had made a career of turning pain into comedy. Since the late ’60s, his searing, profane stand-up act had mined humor from the black ghetto-familiar turf to Pryor, who was raised in a brothel and dropped out of high school. Few comedians before him had drawn from street life with such familiarity and candor, though many (Eddie Murphy and the Wayans brothers among them) would follow.