The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 22, 1989 · Page 50
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 50

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Sunday, October 22, 1989
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E-4B00kS THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER Sunday, October 22, 1989 OOKS -C? 4. Niece looking for Hoyt stories for biography BY JOHN KISEWETTER The Cincinnati Enquirer Ellen Frell is searching Cincinnati for pieces of Waite her uncle, Waite Hoyt. Frell, a TV documentary and free-lance magazine writer from Chicago, is researching the life of the Hall of Fame pitcher and former Cincinnati Reds radio broadcaster for a biography. She describes her 10-year-old project as a mission, a quest to comply with her late uncle's wishes, she says. "We were here in 1979 for dinner and he told me, 'I'm not a good person. You've got to lay it on the line. You've got to tell the full story. You've got to interview the people who don't like me.' "And then he got out a piece of paper and he makes up a list of people I should talk to," Frell recalled in Cincinnati this month. Frell, 39, has pursued the project on and off for the past decade, being interrupted by illness, marriage and the birth of a daughter. She hopes to finish writing by next spring, then offer it to one of many publishers that have already expressed interest in the book. First she wants to complete the manuscript her way, without deadline pressures ... . ( Y CSV. Ad , j ..ITV .3 tottfaiis Waite Hoyt Ellen Frell or interference by an editor. "I just didn't want to do a routine sports bio," said Frell, whose mother is the sister of Hoyt's second wife, Ellen Burbank Hoyt. "I want to do a complete story, to see how the down sides were as well." To many Tristate residents, Frell's words may be slightly disconcerting. Most remember Hoyt for his candid Reds radio comments; his commitment to Alcoholics Anonymous and other community organizations; his loyalty to long-time Reds' sponsor Burger Beer; his paintings; and of course, his colorful rain-delay stories about Babe Ruth, former teammate and friend. But Hoyt's private life wasn't all roses. Hoyt, a handsome man and active socializes first married in 1922, after winning 19 games his first season as a New York Yankee.s pitcher. He divorced 10 years later, leaving his wife to raise their two children. (Frell has interviewed his first wife, Dorothy, now 91, at her Florida home.) Not long after his divorce, Hoyt married Frell's aunt, a recently divorced Manhattan high society girl. They met on a cruise from New York to Florida spring training. His carefree ways continued beyond baseball retirement in 1938 (after 21 seasons) and into his early years as a Reds radio broadcaster (1942-65). In 1945, he made headlines when he was reported missing and suffering from "amnesia." He then checked into Christ Hospital for treatment of his drinking habits and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. "Alcohol was the drug of choice in the '40s," Frell said. "What he did was a very dramatic thing at the time, much more so than the thousands of people who admit their problems today. He really did risk everything." Hoyt had noted the contradictions in his life a recovering alcoholic immensely DODular from selling beer on Reds radio; an intellectual ("The School Boy") on the baseball field; and one of the first ex-ballplayers in the broadcasting booth. He pitched and he painted. In the off seasons, he sang in New York's Palace Theater on the same bill with Jimmy Durante and studied to be a mortician. Frell has talked to family members and several close Hoyt associates, including his third wife, Betty Derie Hoyt; former Burger Beer executives; and former Reds TV announcer Ed Kennedy. But she's looking for others who may have known Hoyt intimately here or have first-hand knowledge of critical events in his life such as police and hospital employees who rescued him from alcohol in 1945, or his 1942 WKRC radio audition. "In a way, I'm on a mission here," Frell said. "I want to do the complete picture. There are two sides to every person. It was clear right away that the public side would be easier to get." Author Ellen Frell may be contacted by writing 1040 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, 111. 60611, or calling (312) 951-8414. Arm yourself with plenty of munchies TRAVELS WITH ALICE By Calvin Trillin Ticknor & Fields; $18.95 BY LINNEA LANNON Knight News Service You have to be in the mood for Calvin Trillin. Or, more accurately, you have to read Calvin Trillin on a full stomach. Otherwise, you will interrupt his Travels with Alice with your own travels to the refrigerator. This is a man with a nose and stomach for good food. Over the years, his search for the best barbecue, catfish and other delicacies has won him a devoted following among those who believe good food need not be: a) expensive, b) served in restaurants with tablecloths or c) consumed at a table. A longtime writer for the New Yorker magazine, Trillin is especially good on his feet; some of his most memorable meals have been eaten as he strolled from vendor to ven- Calvin Trillin dor at ethnic festivals near his home in Greenwich Village. Trillin's strength is a hollow leg, a curmudgeonly streak and the stamina to search out every dive "normal" people cab drivers, natives who don't work at fancy resorts and good cooks recommend. This time around he leaves these shores for more exotic destinations: France, Italy and the Caribbean. Travels with Alice is so blatantly upper middle-class that if you are not, you may want to put Trillin on a starvation diet, or, at least, a menu available only at McDonald's. I've found it easy to commiserate with Trillin's search for good cooking in Kansas City. I found it harder to commiserate with Trillin's quest for good cooking on Barbados. This, of course, has something to do with envy on my part. I would like to go to Barbados. Italy sounds pretty good, too. Ditto Provence. It is not in my immediate future. So be warned. If you have been known to be curmudgeonly once or twice and have not been able to afford a vacation that required a passport in the past five years, Travels with Alice might make you jealous as well as hungry. i Jan Morris . . . occasionally interesting if JSlI n, it ' . h If ' j r.uuJ v., - 1 'Pleasures' a few of Morris' favorites PLEASURES OF A TANGLED LIFE By Jan Morris Random House; $18.95 BY DAN CRYER Newsday In 1974 Conundrum announced to the world that James Morris was now Jan Morris. After years of torment as a male "born into the wrong body," this touching and moving memoir disclosed, the British writer had undergone extensive counseling, hormonal therapy and, finally, surgery. Yet in an age of androgyny, when "transsexuals" like Morris were all the rage on TV talk shows, her disclosures were little more shocking than the coming-out of a favorite nephew. What startled was Morris' appalling conventionality. Though Conundrum spoke the language of feminism and broad-minded sexual anarchism, the woman she had become seemed anything but a creature of the wide-open 70s. Jan was a romantic traditionalist, her sensibility fine-tuned toward the past. While men are at work, she wrote, women do the "real things, like bringing up children, painting pictures or writing home." Her gender-changing regimen had rendered her "even more emotional now. I cried more easily . . . It is a simpler vision I now possess. Perhaps it is near a child's." The likes of Phyllis Schlafly exulted. Feminists cringed. Life went on All the same, Jan Morris survived the notoriety, writing her esteemed travel books and the final volume of her trilogy chronicling the British Empire. She and Elizabeth, her wife of many years, divorced amicably. She made her peace with her children. And she continued a pursuit of pleasures as various as life itself. Pleasures of a Tangled Life is presented as a sequel to Conundrum, but it is actually a series of slight essays on her favorite things. If Conundrum allowed us a , fascinating glimpse into an odd and poignant world, Pleasures is merely an occasionally interesting travelog narrated by a fussy bourgeois. Passion for travel As to sex, which might have been a most titillating subject given this author, Morris is coy. She praises sexual partnerships of every sort, in the abstract. But ultimately she dismisses sex as a bore, as she must; surgery can do that. Travel, of course, is one of Morris' most enduring addictions. She seems to have been everywhere; Honolulu, Moscow, Capetown and Cairo and countless other places crop up in her anecdotes. Her knowledge is extensive and she has opinions on everything. Morris once feared the United States would be homogenized into the blandest of nations; she now sees more oddballs per capita than England has eccentrics. Glasnost no doubt will improve the lot of Soviet citizens. Morris' lament is that it will deprive the place of the mysterious "otherness" so appealing to the romantic traveler. .. Pleasant pastiches like this may please the Morris enthusiast, if few others, but no one should be happy about the chapter titled "Jewish Friends." When not pandering to stereotypes ("Jews can be provoking, no doubt about it"), the author is condescending ("My everyday associations with them . . . have been remarkable for a quality of enhancement"). Did someone say that traditional British anti-Semitism polite, low-key and allegedly benign was dead? Michener: Havana needs mowers, paint SIX DAYS IN HAVANA By James Michener University of Texa9 Press; $24.95 BY MIRTA OJITO Knight News Service Pulitzer-prize winning writer James Michener went to Cuba seeking images of mansions and sugarcane plantations for his upcoming novel on the Caribbean. What he found were crumbling buildings, overgrown yards, "abominable" prison conditions, long lines at markets and smiling children. The result: Six Days in Havana, the latest in a string of location-based literature by the historical novelist. Michener, who has lived in Coral Gables, Fla.. for the oast three years re- Michener searching his Caribbean novel, strayed long enough from that purpose to publish a 144-page nonfic-tion look at Havana, based on a six-day visit he made in 1988. In his book, Michener writes that he spent two years negotiating with U.S. and Cuban government to get a visa for Cuba. "That such interchange has been forbidden is an international tragedy," Michener wrote, after . the 38-minute flight from Miami. The 82-year-old author's impressions of Havana: the need for more lawn mowers and "about 10 million gallons of white paint." The theme of ruin recurs in Michener's narrative, as he describes visits to the crumbling Cu-banacan and El Cerro mansions. Michener, who was accompanied by photographer John Kings, recounts with words and pictures the philosophy of a woman waiting in a long line to buy shoes. "They've passed the word they only have three sizes, but that's all right because if they don't have my size I'll buy a pair anyway and sell them off to some friend," the woman told the novelist. Although he discusses the plight of Cuba's long-term political prisoners, Michener avoids political commentary. But he did not hold back concerning the children, whom he called "enchanting." "Well-nourished, well-shod and clothed, they were the permanent face of the land." 'Minotaur' best military thriller of '89 THE MINOTAUR By Stephen Coonts Doubleday; $19.95 BY BILL BELL New York Daily New9 It will come as a surprise to readers of the best-selling Final Flight, but Navy aviator Capt. Jake Grafton survived that climactic midair collision with the Arab terrorist jet fighter armed with a nuclear bomb. Stephen Coonts, the author, had left no doubt that Grafton died in the crash. But high and behold! Here he is, with a Congressional Medal of Honor, several references to his amazing rescue and recovery, and a new job at the Pentagon. Heroes have returned before from the dead even Sherlock Holmes did without too much damage. Such is the case in The Minotaur, where quite quickly, Jake, Toad Tarkington and the rest of the gung-ho gang are up to the collars of their dress blues in intrigue and skulduggery. This is another paean to the brass brotherhood, the kind of thing Clancy made popular, and Coonts honors the master with a inside joke '"Sounds like something," he has one character say, "that Tom Clancy dreamed up after he had a bad pizza." The "something," code-named Athena, is the Navy's most hush-hush project breakthrough technology that would make radar obsolete. Ah yes, a new Stealth story. Except that Coonts gives it some highly entertaining and engaging twists. Enough of them so that even though two months plus remain on the publishing calendar, this shapes up as the most satisfying military thriller of '89. And that includes the current Clancy. As for the plot, Grafton is assigned to oversee a supersecret project to evaluate prototypes of the new Stealth aircraft. Its most guarded secret is Athena, but someone, known to the Russians only as Minotaur, is feeding the Kremlin everything it needs to know about Athena and 4 lot of other things. At least five people who could put investigators on Minotaur's trail are murdered, and Grafton is seized at gunpoint when he gets too close. The big closing scene is a basement shootout, followed by Minotaur's unmasking and with it, a last couple of plot twists. As usual in military thrillers, civilians, especially politicians, are bashed as simpletons and suckers, but Coonts redeems himself with a keen sense of humor and some nice human touches. (One character, a racist and religious loony genius who invent ed Athena who has changed his name to Sam Brooklyn Dodgers, is worth the price of the book alone) This one flies. n h rLv.v w V ;v Celebrating Its 20th Anniversary Season as one of the greatest quartets In chamber music history! This series I made possible by grants from the E. Nakamlchl Foundation and The Alfred J. Frledlander Memorial Fund. 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BEAR POET'S SOCliTV IK 2:00; 4:40; 7:25; 9:55 UNCLE BUCK (PC) 1:15; 3:15; 5:15; 7:40; 9:50 LETHAL WEAPON 2 () 1:50: 4:15; 7:50; 10:10 ABYSS (PC1JI 1:45: 4:30: 7:30; 10:10 CRKS ANATOMY (PC 13) 1:30; 4:00; 7:45: 10:00 LETHAL WEAPON 2 (R) l iu; :bu; :bO; 10:00 UHCLE BUCK (PC) 2:00; 4:40; 7:30; 9:40 WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (I) 1:40: 3:35; 5:30: 1:10: 10:00 THE FABULOUS BAKEB BOYS (I) ' 2:00; 4:20; 7:40; 9:50 IN COUNTRY IK) 2:10; 4:30; 8 00; 10:10 r?T If. CROSS AHAT0MY (PC 13) t. iu; ecu; l.m, 9:45 ABYSS (PC-13) 2:00; 4:40; 7:20; 10:00 1 Bargain Matinees Daily til 6 pwThese Showtime Are For Today Only. 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SEE COMPLETE OFFER I AND DETAILS WHEREVER "WHO FRAMEO ROQER RABBIT" VIDEOCASSETTES ARE SOLD. I

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