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Janet MaslinIf American Rose does not excel at biographical explanation, it does have a penchant for ornate writing. Some of this befits the gaudiness of the world that Ms. Abbott’s book evokes, but some is just plain overwrought, particularly when it comes to deathbed scenes. As she writes about one figure’s demise: “Quiet crept in, stealthy, taking its time, turning down the volume and unfurling the curtain, lowering it by inches, until the velvet hem teased the floor and the darkness seized his eyes.” If there is such a thing as death by show business, this is what it’s like.
—The New York Times