Aisha Harris of Slate reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
Two new books chronicling groundbreaking shows from the ‘70s deftly approach the subject matter of TV’s “first black superstar” and first truly independent female protagonist, respectively.
In "Flip", Kevin Cook’s biography of comedian Flip Wilson, the narrative never shies away from the ups and downs of his subject’s life. While the familiar rags to riches tales are here, there’s also plenty of insight into his creative process as well, thanks in large part to input from Wilson’s son Kevin. As chronicled by Cook, we learn the details of how Wilson studied and practiced his craft, and the way in which he challenged notions of race and politics while appealing to both black and white audiences. The beloved performer who spent years struggling to make it big before landing his own weekly variety program, The Flip Wilson Show, gets his due here, in a fascinating look at a comedian whose work and life has today gone largely uncelebrated.
Groundbreaking in its own right in regards to women’s issues, Mary Tyler Moore debuted in the same fall season of 1970 as The Flip Wilson Show. In Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted", her informed look at the steps it took to create the revolutionary show starring a single, 30-year-old female lead, cultural writer Armstrong digs deep, profiling the incredible creative team of men and women who brought the show to life and the production’s troubles and successes. The book also provides great background on the origins of your favorite episodes, as well as a fascinating understanding of what it was like to be the rare female comedy writer in the ‘60s and ‘70s. A tribute to the ground it broke for women across America, Armstrong’s "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted" will be a treat for Mary Tyler Moore fans and readers interested in feminism in the arts, alike.
Look for reviews of these books and more on the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.