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Excerpts leak from Patrick Swayze's memoir

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"Dirty Dancing" made Patrick Swayze a superstar, but when he first read the script, he found it a little ... clean.

The actor, who died Sept. 14 of cancer, writes in his memoir, "It seemed fluffy -- nothing more than a summer-camp movie."

The memoir The Time of My Life comes out next Tuesday.

Obit Swayze.jpgSwayze's reaction was completely different about another future smash, "Ghost." He immediately wanted to be in it and persuaded producer Jeff Zucker to cast him despite Zucker's skepticism that Swayze could play a sensitive leading man.

Details from the highly anticipated memoir are slipping out all over the Web. Here's a round-up of the juiciest tidbits:

• Swayze did, of course, wind up taking the part in "Dirty Dancing," but some days his work with co-star Jennifer Grey made him wish he hadn't: "We did have a few moments of friction when we were tired or after a long day of shooting. [Grey] seemed particularly emotional, sometimes bursting into tears if someone criticized her. Other times, she slipped into silly moods, forcing us to do scenes over and over again when she'd start laughing. ... I was on overdrive for the whole shoot -- staying up all night to do rewrites, squeezing in dance rehearsals, shooting various scenes -- and was exhausted a lot of the time. I didn't have a whole lot of patience for doing multiple retakes."

• Swayze also remembered working with a then-little known Tom Cruise in Francis Coppola's adaptation of the young adult classic "The Outsiders." Cruise, Swayze writes, was so "self-conscious about his teeth" that he resisted magazine photo shoots.

• The memoir is co-written with his wife Lisa Niemi. When the couple married, they wrote their own vows. Here's what Swayze said to her: "Together, we've created journeys that were beyond anything we could imagine. We have ridden into the sunset on a white stallion, countless times. We've tasted the dust in the birthplaces of religions. Yet you still take my breath away. I'm still not complete until I look in your eyes. You are my woman, my lover, my mate and my lady. I've loved you forever, I love you now and I will love you forevermore."

• Swayze speaks of a life well lived, but he says his one regret was not becoming a father. He and Niemi tried, but after she miscarried the devastated couple didn't conceive again. "I couldn't wait to become a dad, to have a child with this woman I loved so dearly. And I wanted to be the best father I could be -- the kind of father my dad had been to me. I felt completely crushed with grief. We wanted to try again, but the loss had been so devastating that we just couldn't do it right away. We figured we had plenty more years ahead of us. Eventually, we did start trying again hoping Lisa would get pregnant. But she never did."

• The couple's bond, however, remained strong. He reflects: "The one thing I realized as Lisa and I retraced the arc of our lives is that no matter what happened, we never, ever gave up -- on each other, or on our dreams. I'm far from perfect, and I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. But that's one thing we both got right, and it's the one thing that's keeping me going today."

• Swayze writes about how he first got the news about his cancer late in 2007: "I had been having some digestive trouble, mostly acid reflux and a kind of bloated feeling, for a few weeks. I've had a sensitive stomach my whole life, so I hadn't thought much of it, but lately I just couldn't shake the constant discomfort." He knew right away what he was facing. "My doctor told me my chances of surviving for more than a few months weren't high, and I had no reason to doubt him."

hi_res35675090_3.jpg• Swayze filmed his last TV series, "The Beast," in Chicago -- while he was undergoing treatment. "I continued with chemotherapy all the way through the shoot," he writes. "But I never took any painkillers since they dull not only your pain but also your sharpness."

• In the end, he sums up his life this way: "I began thinking to myself, I've had more lifetimes than any 10 people put together, and it's been an amazing ride. So this is okay."

A rep for the actor confirms that, before he died last week, Swayze recorded a reading of his autobiography. That audio-book CD will be available on Tuesday, as well.

Last-minute Mother's Day gift ideas

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Reichl Bittersweet True Married Love

From the Book Room ... a stack of mother-related books that might say a little more than your average Hallmark card:

Not Becoming My Mother (Penguin, 112 pages, $19.95) by Ruth Reichl. Former restaurant critic Reichl set out to learn more about her mother after her death, and through reading old letters and diaries finds out she never really knew her at all. Publisher's Weekly, which gave the book a starred review, had this to say: "The slender size of Reichl's memoir of her late mother's life belies a powerful tale... Reichl has created a masterful portrait of a mother-daughter relationship that will resonate with readers across generations."

Bittersweet: Lessons From My Mother's Kitchen (Random House, 214 pages, $25) by Matt McAllester. The author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who left home and traveled the world after years of dealing with his once loving and quick-witted mother's mental illness, went on a culinary adventure via his mother's cookbooks after she died.

True Mom Confessions: Real Moms Get Real (Berkley, 266 pages, $14) by Romi Lassally and the creators of Anonymous confessions pour in daily to this Web site and now the author has pooled the best (worst?) and put it in book form. Some are sad, some happy, some poignant, and many are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Example: "Last night my son threw his pacifier. I was tired and frustrated and said, 'We don't throw things!' And then I threw it at him."

OK, here's another one: "Before I moved into a new area I had a tummy tuck and breast implants. All my new friends think I look this good because I work out! I've never told them my secret because I know they'll talk behind my back!"

OK, one more: "I never thought I'd say... Don't pee on your brother in the living room ... We don't lick bricks, honey... Stop pulling your brother's penis... One day you'll LIKE having testicles."

When I Married My Mother: A Daughter's Search for What Really Matters -- and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo (Da Capo, 292 pages, $25) by Jo Maeder. The author, a former New York City disc jockey, left her fast-paced city life and headed south to care for her ailing, estranged mother. Maeder's memoir recounts the challenging transition and the following years spent pulling together her fractured family.

Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages From Home (Hyperion, 247 pages, $17.99) by Doree Shafrir and Jessica Cross. If you have a techno-challenged mom or one who thinks she's savvy but is kidding herself, you can both have a laugh reading these e-mails, texts and IMs from moms everywhere, collected here in this square-shaped volume by the creators of

'Sunshine' and crime scenes

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I saw "Sunshine Cleaning" over the weekend, starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin. For those not in the know, it's about a couple of sisters who start up a business cleaning up crime scenes and other bio-hazardous messes where death has occurred. I enjoyed the movie, and it still has me thinking... Not that I would want to do it myself, but in these tough economic times, if you're looking to start your own business, it's probably best to find some kind of niche in the market.

So, if you are interested in the crime scene cleanup biz, there's a book out there loaded with real-life stories. In Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners (St. Martin's, 306 pages, $24.95), author and journalist Alan Emmins writes about his time hanging out with a guy named Neal Smither and his crew as they cleaned up after murders, suicides, etc., in the San Francisco area.

mop men

Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say about it:

"Emmins delves into the zany character of Smither, a loving family man who puts on a coarsely humorous persona as protective armor as he surrounds himself with the dark realm of death, monitoring his multimillion-dollar business in a highly competitive field. Hanging around with Smither means a grisly experience of suicide surrounded by transgender porn, bodies splattered by gunfire or the decayed corpses of those ruined by meth or contagious disease. ... a totally gonzo way of looking at the crime scene cleaning business."

First Sully book to come out by year's end

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William Morrow has two books in the works with pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, and the first one will come out late this year.

The publisher, an imprint of HarperCollins, said the first book will include stories of Sullenberger's boyhood, military service and, of course, the experience of landing his US Airways plane in New York's Hudson River on Jan. 15, averting major disaster and saving all 155 passengers. The subject and timing of the second book is not yet known.

Obama Speech
Capt. Chesley Sullenberger salutes in the House
Chamber on Capitol Hill last month prior to
President Barack Obama's address to a joint
session of Congress.
(AP Photo)

In a statement issued by the publisher, family spokesman Alex Clemens said Sullenberger is eager to return to work as a pilot sometime this summer.

Sullenberger lives in the San Francisco Bay area town of Danville, Calif.

'Dewey' author gets new cat

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A New Dewey
Vicki Myron and Page. (AP)

Vicki Myron, author of the best-seller Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central, $19.99), didn't plan on getting a new pet right away, but a little orange and white tabby changed her mind. "I fell in love instantly," Myron says of the kitten that was found by the side of a road. Myron, who retired after 20 years as director of the Spencer Public Library in Iowa, has named the kitten Page.

dewey Read the Sun-Times review of Dewey.

Woodward book unveiled

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Simon & Schuster has confirmed that in three weeks they will publish Bob Woodward's latest investigative look into the Bush administration.

Although this is what and have on their Web sites this morning ...

woodward untitled

... this is what the book -- The War Within: A Secret White House HIstory 2006-2008 -- actually looks like:

Woodward Book

Naturally Woodward's employer, the Washington Post, gets first dibs on the embargoed title, and will publish excerpts on Sept. 7, one day before the book is released.

According to Simon & Schuster, which announced a first printing of 900,000 copies, Woodward's book ''takes readers deep inside the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence agencies and the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq. Based on extensive interviews with participants, contemporaneous notes and secret documents, the book traces the internal debates, tensions and critical turning points in the Iraq War during an extraordinary two-year period.''

Woodward's longtime editor at Simon & Schuster, Alice Mayhew, said in a statement today: ''There has not been such an authoritative and intimate account of presidential decision making since the Nixon tapes and the Pentagon Papers. This is the declassification of what went on in secret, behind the scenes.''

Woodward's three previous works on the Bush years have been No. 1 on The New York Times best seller list.

Olympic fever

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If you're looking to multitask while watching the Olympics over the next couple of weeks, check out Pulitzer Prize-winner David Maraniss' latest book, Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World (Simon & Schuster, 486 pages, $26.95). It was the year of Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph and Rafer Johnson. It was the year the Cold War heated up. And it was the year doping scandals became exposed.


Read the Sun-Times' review of Rome 1960, plus a review of a couple of Olympics-themed children's books.

And if that isn't enough, Phil Ponce spoke to Maraniss recently on WTTW-Channel 11's Chicago Tonight.

Dine at your own risk

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This week I've been reading Waiter Rant: Thanks For the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter (Ecco, 302 pages, $24.95) and here is my unabashed recommendation: If you eat out with any regularity, read this book!

Waiter Rant

It's written by a New Yorker who calls himself "The Waiter," and he's the creator of the popular and award-winning Waiter Rant blog. This week, however The Waiter was outed as Steve Dublanica and though it's not been confirmed, the restaurant in which he worked -- which he calls "The Bistro" throughout the book -- is the Lanterna Tuscan Bistro in Nyack, N.Y., according to New York magazine.

Dublanica also appeared this morning on the "Today" show and announced his "retirement" from waiting tables. (Probably a good thing, since he also disclosed that one of his favorite retaliation moves was to pass gas near rude customers and then walk away.)

The book is hilarious and disgusting and very insightful. Dublanica not only tells tales about what servers might do to you if you're rude -- spit in food; fill coffee with regular instead of decaf; play hockey with meat if it's sent back; tell the customer his credit card has been denied -- but also gives good tips for diners: "If a restaurant's bathroom is nasty," he writes, "the odds are good that the kitchen doesn't bother maintaining Health Department-mandated levels of hygiene either."

Appendix A -- "40 Tips on How to Be a Good Customer -- should be studied and committed to memory. I've always thought of myself as a pretty pleasant restaurant patron, and as I read through the list my assumption stands, except for Rule No. 4: "Sit where you're seated!"

"Please let the hostess do her job," Dublanica writes. "She's only trying to seat customers evenly so that everyone gets the best service possible without overwhelming one server. And trust me, when your waiter overhears you whining about your table, he or she will know that you're an annoying table snob who thinks you're entitled to underserved rock-star treatment and that, in all probability, you're a bad tipper to boot."

I have a restaurant pet-peeve, and if I had a blog dedicated to restaurant pet-peeves, this would be my first entry: Getting seated next to the bathroom or the kitchen door, or the restaurant entrance door, or the busing station -- when the restaurant is FULL of empty tables! Obviously in that situation I don't think it's obnoxious to ask for a better table, but of course now I'll be much less likely to do so.

Kate Summerscale wins Johnson prize

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The story of a murder case that gripped Victorian England won Britain’s richest nonfiction book prize Tuesday.

Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Or the Murder at Road Hill House beat five other titles for the $60,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction.

Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

Summerscale’s best-selling book tells the story of an 1860 child murder that tested the mettle of one of Scotland Yard’s first detectives and inspired writers including Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Named in honor of the 18th-century critic and lexicographer, the Samuel Johnson Prize is open to English-language books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

The other finalists were The World Is What It Is, Patrick French’s often unflattering biography of writer V.S. Naipaul; Mark Cocker’s bird book, Crow Country; Orlando Figes’ chronicle of Stalin’s Russia, The Whisperers; Blood River, Tim Butcher’s account of retracing the steps of Victorian explorer H.M. Stanley; and New Yorker music critic Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.

Last year’s winner was Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, about life in Baghdad’s Green Zone.


Read the Sun-Times review of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

Tribute to fathers

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If you haven't picked up a Father's Day gift yet, my suggestion would be to head out to the closest bookstore and see if they have a cop of Tim Russert's Big Russ & Me or the follow-up, Wisdom of Our Fathers.

Russert's death last Friday sent shockwaves through the world of anyone interested in politics and good journalism. The longtime host of NBC's "Meet the Press" and the network's Washington bureau chief will be remembered as a tough but fair-minded interviewer and moderator. But above and beyond his life's calling Russert was a family man, the son of a sanitation worker and truck driver who knew the value of hard work, education and opportunity. He was also a husband (to Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth) and the father of one son, Luke, who recently graduated from college.

He will be missed.

Big Russ & Me is a tribute from Russert to his own father, and Wisdom of Our Fathers is the outpouring of letters and e-mails Russert received from sons and daughters after writing the first book.

Big Russ & Me Wisdom of Our Fathers