What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include the diaries Tina Brown kept while she was editor of Vanity Fair, plus mystery stories by P.D. James.
The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown; Henry Holt, 419 pp.; non-fiction
Tina Brown’s new book recalling her heady, glitzy, glory days as editor in chief of Vanity Fair arrived the very week the magazine named a new editor, surprise candidate Radhika Jones of The New York Times, to replace Graydon Carter (Brown’s long-tenured successor).
The media landscape, of course, has shifted seismically since Brown’s reign. The era of the “celebrity editor” has been declared dead, with the “unassuming” (the Times’ term) Jones left to navigate the glossy in a digital age.
If anybody ever was a celebrity editor it was Brown, and what a run she had, at Britain’s Tatler in her 20s, then in New York at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker before less triumphant stints at Talk, with Harvey Weinstein, and Newsweek.
She relives her rise to the top at Condé Nast in The Vanity Fair Diaries, with glamorous names dropped like gold nuggets throughout these voluminous pages — Donald Trump, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Mick Jagger, Oscar de la Renta, Steve Rubell (of Studio 54), Princess Diana, Michael Ovitz and so many, many more.
At times, Diaries reads like a creaky time capsule (Dynasty’s Joan Collins and her sister Jackie having a real catfight), but it’s also fascinating how little has changed. Men have the power. Brown struggles mightily with work-life balance (work always seems to win). Will she ever be paid what she deserves?
USA TODAY says ★★★ out of four. “Fun…Brown shows a novelistic flair in her descriptions of people.”
Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales by P.D. James; Knopf, 194 pp.; fiction
This posthumous collection of stories turns the classic murder mystery on its ear by not being so much a “whodunit” as a when, where and how’d they get away with it?
USA TODAY says ★★★. “Arriving just in time for the holidays, this small collection is indeed a gift.”
What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather; Algonquin, 274 pp.; non-fiction
The former anchor of the CBS Evening News, now a Millennial darling, has written a book of original…