The latest books from Julia Phillips, Lou Cannon, and Mark Salzman


You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again
Julia Phillips
The first woman to win an Oscar for Best Picture (in 1973, as coproducer of The Sting), Phillips had it all in Hollywood until drugs nearly ended her career. She came clean with this book, hyped as the tinseltown tell-all to end all. But how much does she really reveal? ”Actually, only some,” she admits. ”Sixty/forty, my best offer, take it or leave it.” B

The Virgin in the Garden
A.S. Byatt
She’s obviously a woman of intelligence, but this novel shows why A.S. Byatt didn’t have a lot of fans before Possession. Anglophiles will tremble at scenes of tea at Fortnum’s and other musty pleasures, but most everyone else will yawn over this Jamesian tale of a strange english family. C-

President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
Lou Cannon
Nothing in print is as well informed as this book — or as devastating — on the style and consequences of Ronald Reagan’s goofing off. in showing us what happens in an absentee presidency, and how and why, Cannon has produced an immensely instructive portrait of counterfeit leadership. A-

Ladies and Gentleman — Lenny Bruce!!
Albert Goldman from the journalism of Lawrence Schiller
The biography of Bruce — tawdry, biting, and alive. aspiring pathographer Goldman and sometime mailer collaborator Schiller slink right into the showbiz sleaze and draw out the juice, the manic zigzag rhythms and soul of America’s most controversial comedian. A

Peter Ackroyd
As a tour de force of the Higher Gossip, Peter Ackroyd’s gargantuan effort (1,195 pages) takes the cake. He stalks his vast subject like an obsessed archaeologist. He examines every pebble of evidence, weighs it, worries over it, and, since much of the evidence being sifted is in Dickens’ own eloquent words, the effect is almost that of a collaboration. A

Into the Blue
Robert Goddard
Goddard (In Pale Battalions, Painting the Darkness) lines his elegant puzzle-box books with mystery, suspense, and exotic locales. there’s a hint of hitchcock in this juicy bonbon — the tale of a murder suspect who traces the death of his alleged victim back to the spires of oxford . sublime storytelling. A

The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery: The Collapse of the Savings and Loan Industry
Martin Mayer
Mayer is the first chronicler of the S&L crisis to concentrate on the forest and not the trees. If the trees are the crooks who took over the S&L industry in the 1980s, then the forest is Washington, D.C., where a combination of naïveté, bad faith, and cravenness made crookedness inevitable. A book that sheds more light on the S&L disaster than any of the other half-dozen books written about the scandal. A

The Laughing Sutra
Mark Salzman
Salzman’s first novel isn’t as enticing as Iron & Silk, his 1988 China memoir. but this story of two Chinese picaros off to see the world has its charms. Hsun-ching and Colonel Sun’s search for an ancient Buddhist scripture has a very bearable lightness. B

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