This biography, which has been challenged by Savitch's friends and family, examines in detail, with hundreds of interviews and much quoted dialogue, Savitch's quest for that goal. While attending Ithaca College, she commuted to Rochester, N.Y., over weekends to begin her broadcast career - threatening her health as she did so.
Self-punishment as the price for advancement is a major theme of this book. A subtheme has Savitch turning to cocaine for her often depressed moods. Perhaps the worst drug of all was success. Bill Mandel, then a reporter for the Bulletin, says he was appalled by her empathetic on-screen persona and the immediate iceberg after the cameras were turned off: "My job is to be empathetic during the hour . . . not to hang around and be talked to by the public," he quotes her as saying.
She later started saying that, according to Mandel, "once you can fake sincerity, you've got it made."
Sincerity and a disarming honesty are everywhere evident in Detour: A Hollywood Story by Cheryl Crane with Cliff Jahr (Avon, $4.50). Unless you were vacationing on the dark side of the moon for several decades, you know that Crane became famous and infamous when she stabbed Johnny Stompanato to death when he threatened her and her mother, actress Lana Turner. She was 14 at the time. As if that weren't horrific enough, she was raped repeatedly by Lex Barker, one of Turner's many husbands.
You will not be surprised that Crane's life thereafter plays like a movie melodrama: suicide attempts, time in a reform school and a mental hospital, and the drug abuse that seems to accompany graduates of Tinseltown. Her real- life horror, however, turned into a hard-earned victory over things that would have brought down Job.
She has had a nourishing relationship for nearly 20 years with an equally honest woman called Josh, who was the only one to say to Crane, "I think it was a very brave and noble thing to go to your mother's defense." Crane's reaction? "No one had ever said that what I had done could have been anything but monstrous." To me, Detour is very brave and noble.
On the lighter side - much lighter - you've got Nice Guys Sleep Alone: Dating in the Difficult Eighties by Bruce Feirstein with illustrations by Shary Flenniken (Dell, $5.95). "As a general rule of thumb," writes Feirstein, "never trust anybody who's been in therapy for more than 15 percent of their life span." Diverting.