Simon and Schuster.
608 pages. $21.95.
Trashy-novel queen Jackie Collins continues the saga oLucky Santangelo in this third book detailing the adventures of ,, the Mafia princess. We find Lucky bored with marital bliss (she married up-and-coming comedian Lennie Golden) and plotting the takeover of Panther Studios. The once-venerable movie company is now reduced to making violent, sexist trash that scores big hits at the box office.
But before curmudgeonly Abe Panther will sell his beloved studio to Lucky, he insists she learn about the movie business. She goes undercover as a secretary to the studio president, Mickey Stolli, and the fun begins.
As usual, the most fun of Ms. Collins' books is guessing the real-life celebrities upon whom the characters are based. Venus Maria, the fiery singer and actress, is a combination of Madonna and Gloria Estefan; movie stud Johnny Romano is a young Sylvester Stallone; older but still popular Cooper Turner seems to be Michael Caine.
As with most of her novels, there are complicated relationships, murder, bribery, scandals and lots of inside Hollywood dope. While she is writing strictly by formula, Jackie Collins has it down pat and doesn't disappoint.
"Each year more new plays open in Manhattan than in the rest of the English-speaking world put together." So claims Chuck Lawliss in "The New York Theatre Sourcebook," a guidebook that could be called the Fodors of New York theater.
Even if you're only traveling to the Big Apple to see one show, you'll find the "Sourcebook's" seating charts invaluable in ordering tickets. And take the book with you when go, because there's a handy list of restaurant recommendations at the end of each geographical grouping of theaters. For the bona-fide theater tourist, there's a chapter on tours; one of the most intriguing is the behind-the-scenes look at a Broadway musical offered by an organization called Backstage on Broadway Tours. There also are write-ups of souvenir, record and book shops. If you really get stage-struck, there's a section on acting schools.
Oh, yes: Mr. Lawliss also makes a few pointed remarks about theater etiquette. So the next time you go to a play in New York, don't snore and, for heaven's sake, don't rustle candy wrappers, or someone may pummel you with a copy of this book.
J. WYNN ROUSUCK
Little Dreams: Stories.
$18.95. 212 pages.
The stories in Rachel Simon's first book, "Little Nightmares, Little Dreams," read like prose poems. Their subject is the lack of intimacy. Life, for the protagonists (all are female) of these 16 narratives, is a perpetual autumn. Here amid symbols of decay, they seek emotional connection. But they don't find it. From the girl whose body becomes an artist's canvas, to the grandmother who writes letters in her head, these are finely drawn characters whose interior lives have been used up.
The plots show how they cope with the discrepancy betweewhat they think should be and what is. If I can get the right man, they decide, I'll manage. But none of the men is right. So the protagonists fall back on invention; they try to collect breath in a bottle; they listen for echoes sounding like "frayed ribbons."
Although the book doesn't have an epigraph, a suitable oncould be found in Robert Frost's poem "Reluctance": "The heart is still aching to seek,/But the feet question, 'Whither.' "