New Reviews: September

Susan Salter Reynolds just put down three new books


More Notes of a Dirty Old Man: The Uncollected Columns
By Charles Bukowski
(City Lights, 248 pages, $16.95)

In these pieces, written for the alternative press from 1967 through the mid-’80s, is a Bukowski you might not know—the father taking his seven-year-old daughter to the beach in Santa Monica, where he rescues a homeless man who’s been beaten up by thugs. Here’s the Bukowski lost in the gender wars, confused and trying to keep his own desire (piggy at times, yes) alive. He wasn’t looking for beauty, but he found it now and then. And he was happy writing these columns—as much as a grumpy middle-aged drunk can be. 




Luck and Circumstance
By Michael Lindsay-Hogg
(Knopf, 288 pages, $26)

The director of Brideshead Revisited, The Normal Heart, and numerous Broadway shows, Michael Lindsay-Hogg grew up in New York and Santa Monica. Through his mother, actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, he met just about every powerful person in theater and film. This would be just another Hollywood memoir were it not for the central mystery: Was his real dad Orson Welles, who was rumored to have had an affair with his mother? Lindsay-Hogg’s writing has a tone of triumph—it is clear his work gave him an identity no father could create.




Damage Control
By Denise Hamilton
(Scribner, 384 pages, $26)

Maggie Silver has a successful career with a high-profile L.A. publicity firm. She’s recovered from a total lack of parenting (alcoholic father, ill mother) but still avoids memories of the fateful night that saved her teenage life—until she’s called in on the case of a senator accused of murdering his 23-year-old aide. Denise Hamilton records interiors with the intensity of a cartographer, but one of the invigorating things is how the novel wanders all over Los Angeles, as if it were written by someone who had just gotten her driver’s license and the keys to a convertible.