Picks and Pans Review: Martha Inc.
There's enough dish to feed Martha Stewart lovers and loathers alike in this scrupulously reported bio. The author says he spoke to more than 100 people, but most of the revelations feel unsurprising.
Byron paints Stewart as a remote mother to her daughter and a cold wife who berated her husband until he walked out on her 25 years later. (She once called him "f------ stupid" in front of guests when he failed to stack firewood to her liking, a friend of the pair's said.) And (gasp!) power has made her no sweeter. Walking through the corridors of her corporate offices one day, she stopped to watch her dog poop on the carpet, telling an assistant, "I just wish I could get my employees to do that when I say."
The book goes on too long though, and Byron, a New York Post business columnist, wastes ink endlessly reworking his idea that Stewart is a sour apple who didn't fall too far from the tree: Her dad emerges as a nasty bully. Byron does nail Martha's undisputed genius for exploiting women's domestic fantasies, and the stories of how she wiped the floor with some of America's top male execs at Kmart and Time Warner go down like a delicious dessert. (John Wiley, $27.95)
Bottom Line: Needs pruning