The Browser: A quick look at recent releases.
- May 20, 2012 - 3:39 PM
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
By J.J. Lee (Emblem Editions, 304 pages, $19.99, paperback)
J.J. Lee, who covers men's fashion for the Vancouver Sun and CBC Radio in Vancouver, weaves together three unlikely strands in this graceful, compelling memoir. He tells the story of his late father, John Hing Foon Lee, an unhappy and sometimes brutal restaurateur in Montreal; his own apprenticeship, in his 30s, to an elderly tailor in Vancouver's Chinatown, and the saga of his father's suit, which J.J. slowly, carefully, takes apart and reshapes for himself. "The suit attracts and repels me," he writes. "I have to make a confession. My father's suit ... doesn't deserve the time and effort I am going to put into it." Lee doesn't dwell on the symbolism, focusing, instead, on the details of seams and shoulder pads, the cut of the lapels, the placement of buttons, explaining the significance and history of each as he goes. Through moving flashbacks we get a vivid picture of his father's ambitions and failures and of J.J.'s struggles to come to some sort of peace about his upbringing. The result is a thoughtful, loving and honest narrative, elegant in its clarity and observation. Now out in paperback in the United States, Lee's book was short-listed for Canada's Charles Taylor Prize and Governor General's Award for nonfiction.
LAURIE HERTZEL, SENIOR EDITOR FOR BOOKS
MY HAPPY DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD
By Garry Marshall and Lori Marshall (Crown, 276 pages, $25)
Garry Marshall, the creative force behind "Happy Days," "Pretty Woman" and "The Princess Diaries," has built his career on affable, middle-of-the-road comedies. That might make him a great lunch date, but it's a shaky background for a memoir.
Marshall tears through four of his TV sitcoms and 14 of his movies with rarely anything remotely revealing or shocking. This is the perfect gift for someone with a weak heart. Ron Howard, Julie Andrews, Julia Roberts and Halle Berry aren't just great people in Marshall's eyes; they're saints.
Like his most recent films, "Valentine's Day" and "New Year's Eve," this book is high on star wattage and low on substance. This would be a better read if Marshall had skipped some stories (Who really wants to know about the making of "The Other Sister"?) and dug deeper on his more memorable projects.
NEAL JUSTIN, TV CRITIC
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