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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

March 27, 1994|CHRIS GOODRICH

GO FIGURE! by Patrick O'Connor (Moyer Bell: $18.95; 140 pp.). How's this for a career path--press agent, poet, book editor and finally ski instructor. It sounds like a life imagined by Danielle Steele, but in truth it's been led by Patrick O'Connor, who can move in any social circle, it seems, without missing a beat (must be the Irish blood). As a press agent, he squired Marlene Dietrich about New York, and reports she really did dress up as a nanny when taking her grandchildren to the park; as an editor, he called Ayn Rand "the best writer of young adult books in America" (she wasn't overly insulted, even though O'Connor was her editor at the time); as a ski instructor in Vermont he specializes in "the klutzes, the fatties, the uncoordinated and the fearful," for he pretty much fits that description himself. The nearly 50 pieces in this collection were originally written for O'Connor's New York radio show, and many of them are hilarious. What does a press agent do when a client calls for emergency baby-sitting? Calls up another, child-loving client who lives nearby--in this case Frankenstein himself, Boris Karloff. How does one editor persuade another to publish a literary title? He lies baldfacedly, saying that E. F. Benson's "Lucia" novels have been tapped for Masterpiece Theater. (Benson's novels were indeed adapted for television following their unexpected commercial success in the U.S., leading one of O'Connor's friends to define lies as "truths that haven't happened yet". The barrier between truth and fiction is porous in "Go Figure!"--Leonard Maltin, who was hired by O'Connor to write a film encyclopedia at the age of 17, acknowledges as much in his blurb--but O'Connor's stories are so uncommonly charming the reader can't disapprove.

FOR THE RECORD - NEW TITLE
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 8, 1994 Home Edition Book Review Page 15 Book Review Desk 1 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
In the "In Brief" column of March 27, the title of Patrick O'Connor's book (reviewed as "Go Figure!") has been changed to "Don't Look Back: A Memoir."

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