Book Briefs

By TERRY MATHEWS | News Telegram Arts Editor

July 8, 2007 -

Ava Gardner: ‘Love is Nothing’

From all accounts, Ava Gardner was the most glorious goddess to ever hit Hollywood. 

Ava Gardner: ‘Love is Nothing’
By Lee Server
4/5 Stars

If you make it through all 560 pages of this book, you will read "she was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen," about as many times. It seems everyone author Lee Server interviewed was blinded by her beauty. 

Server talked to people all the way from Ava's childhood through those who knew her at the end. Men and women alike were startled by her beauty. 

However, once you get past the perfect face, a sad pattern develops. 

A North Carolina backwoods girl, Ava was discovered when visiting her sister in New York. 

Fame came fast and furious. Immediately after hitting Hollywood, she was thrown into the life of a starlet. 

She saved herself for marriage to Mickey Rooney, holding onto the morals she learned at home. After they divorced, however, she became quite the “girl about town,” conquering everyone from cabana boys to billionaire Howard Hughes with that fabulous face. 

She married Arte Shaw, who humiliated her for her lack of education. So she read. A lot. 

She married Frank Sinatra, who left his wife and three kids at home to be with her. It didn’t work, either.

She romanced all of her leading men, if Sever's accounts are to be believed. She loved bullfights and bullfighters. 

Along with romance, Ava fancied alcohol – lots of alcohol. She cruised and boozed all over Sunset Boulevard, and she took her appetite abroad while filming in foreign countries. She was lusty, loud and large while her beauty lasted. 

Once the alcohol and late nights began to ravage her face, she retreated to Spain and then London, where she lived in relative obscurity until her death. 

I closed the book, feeling a little sad for Gardner. Maybe it would have been better if she had stayed in the hills of North Carolina. 

The History of Love

When I finished “The History of Love,” I felt hopeful for the next generation of writers.  Author Nicole Krauss' prose is crisp and clear  and is as bright as Waterford crystal in the afternoon sun. 

The History of Love
By Nicole Krauss
W.W. Norton. $13.95. 272 pp.
5/5 Stars

In her second novel, Krauss offers up two divergent characters and carefully weaves them into a beautiful tapestry. 

First, there's Leo Gursky, retired New York City locksmith and lifelong bachelor. He’s a Polish immigrant who came to America after the war took his family and his one true love. He’s 80, in ill health and afraid of dying without notice. 

He makes a scene when he goes out just so the people around him will remember his face. 

He orders juice when he’s not thirsty. He tries on shoes he doesn’t intend to purchase. 

He communicates with his upstairs neighbor by tapping on the radiator. Two taps means he’s still alive. One tap means he’s dead.

Nicole Kauss

Then, there's the young Alma Singer. She, too, lives in New York City. Her father died when she was seven. Her mother is still grieving. Her brother, nicknamed Bird, thinks he might be the Messiah. 

To say more would be to spoil the beauty of Krauss' prose. It is vaguely reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende. 

When the story is over, you're left with an odd feeling of having been in another place. Coming back to the real world is a jolt. Nothing is as it seems. Our imaginations can alter our perception of the world. And sometimes, good things really do come to those who wait.

Older Archives

Looking for News-Telegram Sports and News Archives for January 2004 - November 2008