What I’ve Read: Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky and What Remains by Carole Radziwill
Heads in Beds:
Heads in Beds is the perfect “dessert” book. Dessert books are the books you want to read when you don’t want to cry at the end or get too emotionally involved in an overly intricate plot or when you really don’t want to think too hard about anything at the end of a shitty day. Sometimes people might think that lighter reading fare means that it’s intrinsically not “good,” but that’s just a matter of perspective. For me, a great, light nonfiction read like this one totally makes my day.
There have been comparisons of Heads in Beds to Kitchen Confidential and that’s fair. Tomsky spews the secrets of the hospitality industry without filter (except to disguise guests and celebrities) and it’s all very voyeuristic and exciting. From tips about tipping to how to get the contents of the minibar for free, Tomsky leaves no stone (or bed! ha…) unturned. I think sometimes these industry tell-all type books fall back on shock value or the disgust factor to amp up buzz around the book, but Tomsky doesn’t need to do that. The reason Heads in Beds works so well is because Tomsky is able to be snarky and insidery (which can sometimes read as smug), but he still comes off as a genuinely likable person.
I’ve never read this but after slogging through this season of RHONY and seeing a resurgence of reviews about this book from other bloggers and friends, I thought it was time to give it a try.
What Remains is a really beautiful memoir and the praise for Radziwill’s writing is well-deserved. She describes painful scenes with a simple clarity and beauty that can be hard to find. Although it may be difficult for the average person to relate to her circumstances later in the book, Radziwill makes an effort to relay to the reader that she was not from a privileged upbringing and fought to enter her in-laws’ prestigious inner circle. In case you don’t know the background, Radziwill met her future husband, Anthony Radziwill, while working for ABC News. Anthony was the son of Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister, Lee Radziwill, and was close to his cousin, John F. Kennedy, Jr. After John met Carolyn Bessette, Carole and her became quite close.
The memoir is largely about Anthony’s struggle with cancer (which lasted throughout the entirety of their marriage until his death) and with Carole Radziwill’s difficulty in learning how to navigate their relationship and her new role of caretaker. However, one of the surprising things about the book for me was the level of passion and emotional dependence that Carole shared about her relationship with Carolyn Bessette. It’s clear that they were more like sisters and shared many close, intimate moments.
Carole’s story becomes ever more heart-breaking closer to the end of the book, especially since you know how it ends. You know Anthony won’t make a miraculous recovery. You know the plane carrying her friends won’t make it. Such sensitive and potentially politically-charged subject matter could have been written in a lot of different ways, but Carole chose to emphasize friendship and love over family connections and prestige and that lends legitimacy and elegance to her story. It doesn’t feel like she overshared, but it doesn’t feel like she hid anything either—owing all to the quality of her writing and the depth of her respect and love for the people she was writing about.
Have you read these books? What did you think?