The subtitle is "The Worst Achievements in Hollywood History," and this roast of Oscar will be a banquet to bad-movie fans who may not know anything about cinema, but know what they don't like. The categories and nominations are ingenious. To name three: Worst Performance by a Popular Singer (Tony Bennett wins for The Oscar); Worst Casting of All Time (John Wayne as Genghis Khan); Worst Credit Line ("Additional dialogue by Sam Taylor," for Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew). Michael Medved, 31, is an aspiring screenwriter while Harry, 19, wrote The 50 Worst Films of All Time and is "the proud owner of one of the nation's leading collections of Mamie Van Doren memorabilia." Their lack of taste is impeccable, except on two counts. They choose Richard Burton as worst actor. And they earn the Most Dumb Mistakes on One Page of a Bad Movie Book Award, calling Susan Hayward "Susan Haywood" and Sylvia Kristel "Sylvia Cristell" both on page 167. (Perigee Books, $6.95)
For 17 years Cathie Heloise Cruse put together a popular (600 newspapers) syndicated column simply by reprinting suggestions for housekeeping shortcuts sent in by her readers. When she died in 1977, her daughter Ponce Kiah Marchelle Heloise Cruse took over the column with no apparent loss of readership or breathless, effusive style. (Ponce is a family nickname, Kiah comes from her aunt Hezekiah, Marchelle is a feminized version of father Marshall.) Now she has compiled this useful encyclopedia of how to do everything around the house more easily and less expensively. It's Ponce's first book, an update on five similar volumes published by her mother. The first section, on cooking, isn't for serious chefs, but the part on using leftovers is worth the price of the book. Heloise's most enthusiastic hint, however, is on nylon net fabric, which she insists is a miracle, all-purpose cleaning rag and pot scrubber, "the greatest discovery since the wheel." There are also suggestions about first aid, sewing, gardening, care of clothes and beauty tips. A good index is provided. (Arbor House, $12.95)
by Roald Dahl
Dahl, noted for his tales for children (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and grisly short stories, has a unique imagination. He delights in poisonous yarns of disgusting people who prey on the worst qualities of their fellowman. This time an old Dahl character, Uncle Oswald, and a beautiful woman companion go around gathering sperm from famous men so they can sell it to rich women who want to give birth to geniuses. (Sounds a bit like a recent news story, of course, but Dahl wrote the book before the launching of the Nobel laureates' gene bank.) The closest thing in literature to this depressing material is the sex fantasies of Frank Harris. My Uncle Oswald, Dahl's first adult novel, is basically a long dirty joke. (Knopf, $8.95)
>•DR. FISCHER OF GENEVA, OR THE BOMB PARTY by Graham Greene—It's an entertaining mystery, not to mention a parable about evil.
•ERROL FLYNN by Charles Higham—The dashing movie hero was bisexual and a Nazi spy? The author argues that Errol was both.
•IN THE STRONG WOODS by Paul Lehmberg—A series of quiet, penetrating essays re-create a summer alone at a cabin by a lake.
•PREPARATIONS FOR THE ASCENT by Gilbert Rogin—For brilliant writing, Rogin's novel of an unhappy, aging New York man is one of 1980's best.
•LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE by Robert Silverberg—This fat sci-fi work whose amnesiac hero roams the netherworld reads like the dream of a genius.
by Harry and Michael Medved