April 1, 2016 Booklist 17 www.booklistonline.com
Moby-Dick), and a few are to be expected (his
love for Treasure Island). They discuss Jackson’s insomnia, peripatetic lifestyle, addiction
to painkillers, and belief that things, ultimately, will work themselves out, but always
with an emphasis on and deep respect for his
unparalleled artistry. This is a sympathetic and
admiring look at the final days of a great entertainer who couldn’t or wouldn’t grow up.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With its release on the anniversary of Jackson’s death,
Smiley’s latest will have an immense media
presence and elevated reader interest.
Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing,
and the Lasting Power of Their First
Ed. by Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton.
Apr. 2016. 272p. Morrow, paper, $19.99
(9780062399557); e-book (9780062399571). 700.
It turns out that writers, actors, and artists
are just like the rest of us. They, too, harbor
memories of that first celebrity crush. It might
be embarrassing to admit (really, David Cas-
sidy? Annette Funicello?), but it’s all a part of
growing up. In this entertaining collection,
an assortment of authors, journalists, blog-
gers, and actors confess longings for singers
(Michael Jackson); actors (Mark Hamill, Kim
Novak); and fictional characters (Speed Racer,
Almanzo Wilder). Some stories are funny
ugly-duckling complex, he emphasizes her
bold embrace of her Jewishness in a time of
overt anti-Semitism and
her flagrant defiance of
sexism. Her dream was to
be a film star; the gift that
paved the way was her
sublimely expressive voice.
Flaunting her unconven-
was way ahead of her time
in donning thrift-store finery and dying her
hair blue and green, then evolving a strik-
ingly exotic, glamorous look—Streisand,
Gabler asserts, set a new, liberating standard
for beauty defined by intelligence and talent.
Analyzing her chart-topping albums and hit
movies via behind-the-scenes revelations and
astute interpretation, and sensitively illumi-
nating her complex, difficult, quintessentially
Jewish temperament, Gabler chronicles the
vicious criticism Streisand endured as well as
fervid, even overwhelming adoration. With
unabashed appreciation for her tenacious
refusal to be bullied by the entertainment
establishment or the media, Gabler maps the
fecund artistic and social ground that the bril-
liant and outspoken Streisand has claimed by
doing things her way, decade after decade. —
Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and
Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days.
By Tavis Smiley and David Ritz.
June 2016. 288p. Little, Brown, $32.50
Just as he did for Martin Luther King Jr.
in Death of a King (2014), PBS broadcaster
and best-selling author Smiley (a fan of the
singer since he was a five-year-old growing up
in Indiana), and his collaborator, Ritz, chronicle the 16 weeks leading up to the King of
Pop’s untimely death. The authors have written the story in the present tense and from
inside Jackson’s psyche (“Michael realizes he
must do what he has long sought to avoid”).
Many of the details are sad, bordering on the
pathetic (“Michael wanted . . . an upturned
nose—much like the nose of Bobby Driscoll,
the child actor hired by Disney to be the
voice and likeness of Peter Pan”), but others
are delightfully surprising (his admiration for
ONLINE ALERT! This April is the twen-
tieth National Poetry Month—Booklist
subscribers can use Booklist Online’s
powerful Advanced Search to access
more than 3,000 reviews of poetry books
for readers young and old. We also have
lists, articles, and other resources for li-
brary and classroom use. Visit www
. booklistonline.com/subscribe to unlock
your access today!