If booksellers started a Hall of Fame (and come to think of it, why not?), then Otto Penzler would be inducted faster than your Amazon Prime delivery arrives. Not only is he the longtime proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop, in New York, but he also runs a publishing house and edits anthologies. His latest, which at nearly 1,200 pages could be handy in a bar fight, is a collection of short stories that inspired classic crime films. Each is prefaced by a briskly written capsule describing the writer, plot, and movie itself, with lots of fascinating detail. From Christie to Doyle, Joyce Carol Oates to Sinclair Lewis, Penzler covers the waterfront. (Which reminds us: On the Waterfront is based on Budd Schulberg’s Murder on the Waterfront.)
How does a kid from Arizona who majored in electrical engineering become one of America’s most inventive comic performers and writers? Apatow is the ideal archaeologist, sifting through diaries and interviewing close friends to answer the question of what made Gary Shandling, the creator of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show, think and act the way he did. No one mocked the business of show better than Shandling, who died in 2016, and yet, as Apatow proves, no one needed it more as a balm to his own insecurities and sadnesses.
If the Tabloid Gods ruled the world, Cameron Douglas would be dead by now. A member in bad standing of Hollywood acting royalty (son of Michael, grandson of Kirk), Douglas crashed cars, robbed liquor stores, cycled in and out of rehab centers as if they were drive-ins, and ended up serving eight years in jail (two in solitary) for selling crystal meth. Even his dad thought he would not make it.
The good news for us is that Douglas, now 40, not only survived his descent but has written a searingly honest account of his life before and during prison. He is a tad more candid than his parents might like about his dad’s affairs, which helped doom his marriage to Cameron’s mother, Diandra, but he leaves no doubt that the person to blame for his struggles is the author himself.