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“At times I despair. Retail shelves and the bestseller lists used to be full of authors. Now they’re just full of names.” - Caitlin Flanigan, literary critic


Like Ross Perot—Without the Crazy, by Michael Bloomberg
Jacoby & Sons
112 pages
$19.99


This strategically-timed release from Jacoby & Sons finds New York mayor Michael Bloomberg testing the waters for a possible 2008 presidential run. When Bloomberg recently announced his intention to discard his G.O.P. affiliation, observers immediately concluded that the billionaire mogul would attempt a third-party campaign, much like H. Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. According to publishers, Like Ross Perot—Without the Crazy outlines Bloomberg’s “outsider” approach to politics. “As an enormously wealthy businessman, politician, and 60-something white male, mine is a unique perspective on the corridors of power,” writes the two-term mayor, estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $5.5 billion. “And, unlike certain other billionaire dilettantes in presidential campaign history, I am not conspicuously insane.”


Letter from Los Angeles Jail, by Paris Hilton
Page Central Publishing
344 pages
$29.99


In what is surely the most surprising publishing event of the season, socialite and professional celebrity Paris Hilton pens a collection of “open letters” written while she was imprisoned at an all-women’s jail in Los Angeles County. In her preface, released with the book’s advance promotional materials, Hilton writes: “I used to act dumb. It was an act … and that act is no longer cute. Now I’m ready to discuss the issues that are important to me. Principally—civil and human rights, nationally and from a global perspective. Heidegger and Wittgenstein. Zoroastrianism and Persian philosophy with an Indo-Iranian focus. Metallurgy. Optical physics.” Publicists are trumpeting that the book will fundamentally change the public’s opinion of the famous heiress. Although Hilton apparently retains at least some of her irresistible moxie when she writes: “In the 1950’s, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee discovered an unexpected asymmetry in the decay of a subatomic particle. That’s hot.”



A Simple Man, by John Travolta
Hanson Press Ltd.
550 pages
$49.99


This weighty, frank, and unadorned autobiography from Hollywood actor John Travolta reveals a man willing to unblinkingly assess his life in public. “I wouldn’t trade my career with anybody’s. I love my career. I’ve done 45 movies, and 30 of them you’re going to know of.” Humble and unassuming to a degree rarely seen in show business, Travolta reminisces with gratitude on a blessed life. “[These] movies I’ve done are iconic on some level, whether they’re from a book or changed society or were the biggest of their day. Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Urban Cowboy, Look Who’s Talking, Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty ....” The smallest details are telling; asked whether it takes courage to play unorthodox roles, such as the housewife Edna in this month’s Hairspray, Travolta replies simply, “My career has been pretty bold. It’s courageous if you’re not used to doing courageous things.” On his relationship with directors, and his audience: “Don’t mess with what I got going here with these people, because I have 32 years, plus another ten years of theater before that, and I know how my particular abilities affect an audience.” In the book’s final chapter, titled Quintessence, Travolta comes to some sobering conclusions: “So far as I’ve been able to ascertain, I am essentially perfect. Without fault or flaw. Beloved by millions. Hale, handsome, and happy.” [[ed. note: All quotes except the last actually taken from this recent Reader’s Digest interview, ” More Than a Woman”, by Meg Grant.]]


Li’l Danny in Funland, by Bob Barker
Imagination Company
32 pages
$6.99


Joining the recent trend of celebrities penning children’s books for their kids and grandkids, game show host and Burbank legend Bob Barker celebrates his recent retirement with his own contribution. Li’l Danny in Funland chronicles the adventures of a 6-year-old boy who wakes up one morning in a magical world of fun, games and retail items. His guide in this land of wonder—a white-haired angel known as “The Host” who loves to bask in the sun and rescue little animals. Events take a rather odd turn, however, when the Bikini Meanies—former residents of Funland—sue the Host for sexual harassment, soiling his sunny image and reputation. The Host rises up in great anger, unleashing the Hounds of Litigation, and … well, you’ll just have to read the book! Unexpectedly pushing the envelope for children’s literature, Li’l Danny in Funland is sure to be a treasured favorite for the whole family.

Glenn McDonald writes about popular culture from his home in lovely Chapel Hill, NC. His humor essays have been described as "grammatically consistent" and "remarkably frequent". He is editor of the Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me daily news quiz at NPR.org, and a film critic at the Raleigh News & Observer. He lives virtually at www.glenn-mcdonald.com.


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