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Anything Your Little Heart Desires


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"Is there a sixth sense, Daddy?" Bosworth once asked her father. "Sure," he joked. "There's panic." A high-wire artist, as his wife, Cutsie, called him, Bartley Crum (1900-1959) could not afford panic, but at 59 the elegant, well-connected celebrity lawyer succumbed to it. Approaching a financial and political dead end, Bosworth's father took an overdose of Seconal and washed it down with whiskey. Recklessly engaged in an alcoholic and drugged high life on both coasts, he had worked for big business, even campaigning for Wendell Wilkie in 1940, while taking up labor and leftist cases. Undercut by State Department anti-Semites, notes the author, he obsessively promoted the cause of Israel. Dogged by J. Edgar Hoover's agents, he defended the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. While everything he took on added zip to his life, his roller-coaster career adversely affected his income. Bosworth (Montgomery Clift; Diane Arbus) has written a memorable chronicle of a dysfunctional family, illuminating her offbeat relationships with her father, her mother (a failed novelist) and her brother (also a suicide), and juxtaposing their lives of tawdry glamour against the backdrop of the '30s, '40s and '50s. Where she fails, often jeopardizing her credibility, is in "remembering" events she could not have been privy to and inventing dialogue to go along with them. What lingers is a tone almost reflecting daughter-father emotional incest. The memoir, told in voices intended to suggest the author's ages at various times, has some of the cinematic ingredients of a Daddy Dearest. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)

Writers of familial reminiscences often reveal a taste for treacly superlatives and insincere endearments. No such charge can be leveled here against Bosworth (e.g., Diane Arbus, LJ 6/1/84), the daughter of Bartley C. Crum. Crum was perhaps best known as one of the six lawyers who defended the Hollywood Ten when the House Un-American Activities Committee was pursuing its investigations of the "Communist peril" at the start of the Cold War in 1947. In presenting the story of Crum's remarkable career as lawyer to such notables as Rita Hayworth, adviser to President Truman, publisher of a liberal tabloid, and champion of the First Amendment, Bosworth maintains an admirable combination of sympathetic understanding and never-cold detachment. One feels that she has accomplished what she evidently set out to do: come to terms with her brother's and her father's suicides and reconcile herself to her father's having named names to prove his own loyalty. An engrossing study of personalities and motivations; strongly recommended.‘A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston

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