St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on December 4, 1984 · Page 16
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 16

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Tuesday, December 4, 1984
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Page 16
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booksthe arts 4B Tues., Dec. 4, 1984 SILOUiS POST-DISPATCH Book Reviews The Best Sellers Review - r 1 i- Fast-Buck Follow-Up To 'The Godfather' THE SICILIAN A novel by Mario Puzo 41 0 pages. Linden Press, $1 7.95 Reviewed by Kevin Horrigan You've heard of sequels, of course. One popular book or movie followed by another, continuing the story. And then there are "prequels," a book or a movie that followed a popular successor, but picked up the plot somewhere before the original. The movie they made of Mario Puzo's "The Godfather," was followed by "The Godfather II," which was both a prequel and a sequel, since its plot sandwiched the original. Well, that was fine and made for good viewing and made Mario Puzo fabulously well-to-do, enabling him to write ennobling "Superman" screenplays and another best-selling novel called "Fools Die." But what was Mario to do with his "Godfather" gang, since they'd already been sequeled and prequeled? The answer is found in "The Sicilian," a fast-buck novel that reads like young adult fiction "The Hardy Boys Meet the Mafia." Avoid it at all costs. Coming soon to a theater near you. You'll recall that somewhere in the middle of "The Godfather Saga." young Michael Corleone bumps off a hoodlum and a police captain right in the middle of a plate of linguini. Hey, they'd set up Don Corleone and had to be done away with. But Michael is forced to flee to Sicily for a couple of years before he can come back and take over the family olive-oil business. Heh-heh. What you didn't know until "The Sicilian" wac that right before Michael returned to America, he got caught in the middle of a battle between the two top bad guys in Sicily. In this corner, weighing 400 pounds, is Don Croce Malo, chief of chiefs in the Sicilian Mafia. In that corner, tall dark and handsome Salvatore "Turi" Giuliano, the steal-from-the-rich, give-to-the-poor hero of downtrodden peasants. Don't take Turi lightly. He's as fast with a machine-gun as the next guy, but only kills people who deserve it. And he gives them a chance to pray first. Well, oP Turi has to escape to America, and Michael has to help him. That's where "The Sicilian" begins, and that's where it ends, but the mid- 9))(mmm Pi I L. f 3t - . , MM.l Hard Cover From the New York Times (As of Dec. 2) Fiction 1. THE TALISMAN, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. (Viking, $18.95.) Two parallel worlds and a young boy who can travel between them. 2. LOVE AND WAR, by John Jakes. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $1 9 95.) The Civil War rages in this saga of a Pennsylvania family and a South Carolina family, begun in "North and South." 3. THE SICILIAN, by Mario Puzo. (Linden Press-Simon & Schuster, $17.95.) Michael Corleone against the Mafia. 4. THE FOURTH PROTOCOL, by Frederick Forsyth. (Viking, $17.95.) A London jewel robbery leads to plots and counterplots behind the Iron Curtain. 5. STILLWATCH, by Mary Higgins Clark. (Simon & Schuster, $14.95.) A woman's search for her past puts her life in peril. 6. STRONG MEDICINE, by Arthur Hailey. (Ooubleday, $16.95.) A strong woman rises in the pharmaceutical industry. 7. "...AND LADIES OF THE CLUB," by Helen Hooven Santmyer. (Putnam? $1 9.95.) Life in an Ohio hamlet, 1 868 to 1 932. 9. THE LIFE AND HARD TIMES OF HEIDI ABROMOWITZ, by Joan Rivers. (Delacorte, $8.95.) The comedienne tells the "true story" of her high school "friend," a notorious tramp. 9. LIFE ITS OWNSELF, by Dan Jenkins. (Simon & Schuster, $15.95) The adventures of a Giants halfback turned television commentator. 10. GOD KNOWS, by Joseph Heller. (Knopf, $1 6.95.) King David tells his story in comic and irreverent style. Mario Puzo die is Robin Hood, only with lots more gore. I read and emjoyed "The Godfather," but I don't recall Puzo's being as bad a writer as "The Sicilian" shows him to be. And he comes off bad right from the start: "Michael Corleone stood on a long wooden dock in Palermo and watched the great ocean liner set sail for America. He was to have sailed on that ship, but new instructions had come from his father." It gets a little better, but not much. "The Sicilian" reads like a cynical shlock novel designed to capitalize on previous better efforts. Mario Puzo has made us an offer we can refuse. Nonfiction 1. iACOCCA: An Autobiography, by Lee lacocca with William Novak. , (Bantam, $17.95.) The rise of the automobile executive from immigrants' son to top jobs at Ford and Chrysler. 2. LOVING EACH OTHER, by Leo Buscagha. (Slack-Holt, Rinehart & Winston, $13.95.) Suggestions for setting our priorities right in order to enjoy life to the fuHest. 3. PIECES OF MY MIND, by Andrew A. Rooney. (Atheneum, $12.95.) More essays by the journalist and television commentator. 4. MOSES THE KITTEN, by James Herriot. (St. Martin's, $9.95.) A waif kitten is adopted by pig; illustrated. 5. "THE GOOD WAR," by Studs Terkel. (Pantheon, $19.95.) World War II as remembered by men and women who lived through it. 6. DR. BURNS' PRESCRIPTION FOR HAPPINESS, by George Burns. (Putnam, $11 95.) The octogenarian comedian provides a regimen of laughs. 7. THE BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER, by Richard Bach. (Morrow, $16.95.) The author of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" recounts his search for a true love. 8. HERITAGE, by Abba Eban. (Summit, $30.) An account of Jewish history by the Israeli diplomat who hosts the PBS show of the same name. 9. HEY, WAIT A MINUTE, I WROTE A BOOK! by John Madden with Dave Anderson. (Villard Books, $14.95.) An anecdotal autobiography of the popular television sports announcer. 10. A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC, by Shel Silverstein. (Harper & Row, $13.50.) Light verse and drawings by the author. A Happy Evening In Oz For Kids Of All Ages Theater By Joe Pollack Of the Post-Dispatch Staff There are many overtones of "The Wiz" mixed into the Theatre Project Company's production of "The Wizard of Oz," but the blend works, thanks to solid direction and a glorious performance by Darryl Maximilian Robinson. The result is a charming, warm, highly entertaining evening of the L. Frank Baum classic. One overtone I didn't like was a change in the climactic scene. Balloons may be fun, but I missed Dorothy clicking her heels together and saying "I want to go home." Even with that change, however, I found the musical most rewarding it's nice to attend one and leave humming its tunes. The show, aimed at families for the pre-holiday period, had its formal opening last Saturday, and will continue this week at the New City School, with curtain at 10 a.m. today through Thursday and again on Saturday, at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and at 8 on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The cast is liberally laced with children, with two separate sets of supporting casts and dancers. All were bright and properly cute at the performance I saw. Michelle Burdette-Elmore provided some simple choreography and Stuart Elmore, the musical director, brought out proper clarity and diction in the chorus work. Debra Lynne Wicks directed, showing obvious patience and skill with the youngsters and a nice touch with the adults, too. The evening is well-paced and stylish, and works effectively in its limited space. But the evening belongs to Robinson, whose Cowardly Lion steals the show so slickly that he might be considered a threat to Brink's, Wells Fargo and Mercan tile Trust. At times, he reminded me of Bert Lahr. who was the original; at others, he brought memories of Ken Page, the St. Louisan who was the Lion for a time on Broadway in "The Wiz" and who later was Old Deuteronomy in "Cats." Robinson is not only larger than life, he's even larger than a cartoon, mugging and clowning in a red-and-gold costume that seemed much like an oversized pom-pon. His work with a scarf was most skillful, and when he pitched over in a faint at one point, the fall was a classic. Mark Fredo was a highly satisfactory Tinman, in a costume that used so many muffin pans there may not be any left for St. Louis bakers, who now will undoubtedly be forced to free all their blueberries. He handled the difficulties of the costume with real style, and while his aura belied the fact that he lacks a heart, his work was warm and charming. Michael Lubeck's Scarecrow was extremely bright in his early scenes, but he soon faded into the background behind his two companions. Rita Sand is a charming Dorothy, and she deserves plaudits for coping with a not-too-cooperative Toto in the opening scene. Trying to sing "Over the Rainbow" while calming a squirming dog, feeding him and having him lick your face is not an easy thing to do. But she persevered, and went on to offer a solid performance. Burdette-Elmore and Lisa Raziq brought nice touches of humor to the roles of the good and evil witches, respectively. William Charles Burch made an excellent Wizsrd. Frank Bradley's set, John Gu-toskey's costumes and K. Dale White's lighting all work effectively. This musical evening in Oz should be enjoyable for children of all ages. Kevin Horrigan is a sports columnist for the Fost-Dispatch. An Essayist With Grace THE NIGHT OF THE OLD SOUTH BALL By Edwin M. Yoder Jr. 248 pages, Yoknapatawpha Press, $13.95 Reviewed by Kevin Horrigan Edwin M. Yoder Jr., started life as a bright young man in the Piedmont Hills of Mebane, N.C. He wenfon, like many bright young Carolinians, to Chapel Hill, and from there to Oxford, and then back to North Carolina and later to Washington to work as a newspaperman. In 1979, he won a Pulitzer Prize for. editorials he wrote for the late, lamented Washington Star. Now he writes a syndicated political column, to which he brings all of the trinkets accumulated along the way the classical education of Oxford, the shrewd insight of the Southern newspaperman, the insider's savvy of the top Washington reporter. But the best thing about Yoder's essays 88 of which are collected in "The Night of the Old South Ball" is the grace and common sense he learned in the Piedmont. They serve him well. As Willie Morris says in the introduction to this collection, Yoder "demonstrates one of the most eclectic minds at work in contemporary America." His column, which is carried on the op-ed page of the Post-Dispatch, avoids the who-said-what-to-whom, crisis-looming, it-is-viewed-with-alarm kind of ax-grinding that makes the average political column about as interesting as yesterday's oatmeal. Instead, Yoder dances with aplomb tnrougn subjects as diverse as the arms race and summer vacations which he insists should be taken at the same time each year, at the same place, in the same company. He profiles people he finds interesting, from Robert E. Lee to Henry Kissinger. He never commits the first deadly sin of punditry taking oneself too seriously. I came late to Yoder's work, "discovering" him only after the Post-Dispatch began running his columns last February. "The Night of the Old South Ball," published by the little press in Faulkner Country, was a wonderful way to find out what I've been missing. Kevin Horrigan is a Post-Dispatch sports columnist. Secrets Of A Female Candidate STILLWATCH By Mary Higgins Clark 302 pages, Simon & Schuster, $14.95 Reviewed by Colleen Kelly Warren Mary Higgins Clark, the author i . several best selling thrillers ("A Stranger is Watching," "The Cradle Will Fall," "A Cry in the Night") has turned her attention to the Washington political scene in this timely novel about the first woman to be nominated as vice president of the United States. Abigail Jennings has carefully engineered her ascent to power, but her public image lacks an element of warmth. Pat Traymore, a respected young television journalist, is hired to film a documentary highlighting Senator Jennings' career and personal life, as part of a "Women in Government" series. Dark secrets are unearthed about Abigail Jennings, and in the process of searching them out Pat discovers clues to her own troubled past. There is a link connecting the two women, and it is a tribute to the author's craft that such "coincidence" is entirely believable. There is a "love interest" in the person of Sam Kingsley, a congressman both women are attracted to. And there is, of course, plenty of suspense leading to a conclusion which draws in a clairvoyant, a religious fanatic whose life's mission is to kill (either from motives of mercy or justice), and Senator Jennings' beefy bodyguard, Toby, who has vague mob connections and a maniacal devotion to his boss. "Stillwatch" is fast-paced and short enough to be read in one sitting if you don't mind sitting on the edge of your chair for several hours. Colleen Kelly Warren is a St. Louis free-lance writer. Hippos For The Grandchildren HURRY HOME, GRANDMA By Arielle North Olson Illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich 32 pages, Dutton, $9.95 Reviewed by Carol Perkins "Hurry Home, Grandma!" is a truly deightful new Christmas story for young children. The wonderful illustrations and the simple, easy-to-read text tell a story full of the joy and anticipation of families being together for Christmas. Grandma is coming home from a trip to a jungle filled with friendly hippos and monkeys as the grandchildren are trimming the Christmas tree at home and hoping and waiting for Grandma's arrival. It will be especially nice for us to read to our grandchildren, as my husband and I often have been away in some jungle. But like grandparents everywhere, we want to Hurry Home for Christmas. Carol Perkins, an author of children's books, is a peripatetic grandmother herself, frequently traveling to faraway places with her husband, former St. Louis Zoo director Marlin Perkins. An Irresistible Rainy Day Offer from Roosevelt London Fog Warmth and security are the things most wanted on rainy days. Now Roosevelt Federal brings them together in perfect combination. You can have 6 to 36 month certificates, paying substantial interest, plus London Fog premiums. What a smart combination. Stop in novu for details. 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