Liz Smith: Are We Better Than Them? Dan Abrams Says Yes, We Are!

Author, legal analyst, and web impersario Dan Abrams

And more from our Gossip Girl: Madonna’s compelling “W.E.” … Antonia Fraser’s diaries … Kate Hudson — it’s just rock n’ roll! … Paula McLain’s dishy new novel

“IN MANY ways I remain as bewildered by women as when I was a single man in my mid-twenties. Today, as a still-single guy in my mid-forties, I can offer no valuable guidance to men or relationship advice to women, for that matter. I remain a consumer of such information, not an expert.”

That’s Dan Abrams in the preface of his fashionably slim and fascinating new book, “Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers and Just about Everything Else.”

Dan, the chief legal analyst at ABC, and the founder of, is not kidding around with this book. He has done his homework, and if you ever doubted the superiority of the female species, Dan’s the man to put you right.

Other areas in which women excel include voting (women vote more) … they are better doctors … better students … and are less corrupt when it comes to politics. Women are better at navigating a tough economy. Dan’s research has also led him to write that women are better newscasters, and actually take less time than men, “getting ready” to go out.  (Dan does raise an eyebrow over that last one, but he’s willing to give the ladies their due, nevertheless.)

Also — women are less likely to be struck by lightning than men!

I’ve always liked Dan Abrams. And now that he’s charmingly admitted what we all knew anyway, I like him even more!

* * *

MADONNA is just about done editing her film, “W.E.” The star wrote and directed this tale of a modern young woman (Abbie Cornish) who is fascinated by the historic “fairytale” romance of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Frustratingly, I cannot say too much about the film. But I do feel safe in saying that Madonna is going to surprise just about everybody with her finesse here. “W.E.” is lush, compelling, romantic, funny and tragic. The pop icon is one hell of a director. But that’s no surprise to me.

* * *

ONE OF the most compelling books of recent months was, for me, Lady Antonia Fraser’s work of her diaries, titled “Must You Go?”

This told the story of her midlife romance and long happy marriage to the famous British playwright, Harold Pinter. Lady Fraser has always been known for her historical insight, particularly in her life of Marie Antoinette. But in “Must You Go?” she scores as only a true retriever of the actual record can.

This is a delightful and soaring book, full of the complexities of divorce, families, creative pursuits, etc. It ends with Pinter winning the Nobel Prize as he flirts with illness and death.

So, some of the book is sorrowful and tragic but much of it is amusing. Here is something Antonia wrote in 2003: “The most exciting social event was a visit of Jude Law, who will star in the new film of

‘Sleuth,’ produced by Tom Sternberg, directed by Kenneth Branagh, screenplay by Harold.

“Tom brought him down, arriving in a huge silver car which satisfied all expectations of glamour. As indeed did Jude himself, lying asleep under an apple tree in his swimming trunks like a young Apollo taking a nap.

“Alas, Edna O’Brien, also staying with us, ordained that we ladies should not swim at the same time as Jude, lest we lose our mystery for him.”

* * *

What is it with the beautiful Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn? She only seems to go for these rock’ n ’roll guys, like her first husband Chris Robinson, with whom she has a little boy.

Now Kate is divorced from Chris and expecting a new baby with her current boyfriend, Matt Bellamy of the band Muse. Matt is writing a song for Kate, saying, “There will be one lullaby on the next album, for sure!”

* * *

I love the New York Times latest invention, the “Crib Sheet” by Henry Alford. It is subtitled “The 10 Things To Talk About This Weekend.” Here is a sampling:

“1. Now 33 percent thinner: the new Ipad, the cast of “Two and a Half Men.”

4. A new $140 Adidas sneaker is designed for removal at airports. Sweat pants for your feet.

9. The ubiquitous Koch brothers: the Zeligs of questionable funding.”

Next to this was a story headlined “Don’t Judge Us, We’ll Judge You” – a tale of two blue-haired young entrepreneurs who call themselves the Bumbys. They will come to your party or your promotion and line up your guests for fashion analysis, given out loud, about their “looks.”  It’s called “being Bumby’d” and is all the rage.

I wonder if the fashion-pronouncing Bumbys know that their name was also the famous nickname for Ernest Hemingway’s first son with his wife Hadley Richardson.

The baby, Bumby, is an important character in a new novel, “The Paris Wife,” written by Paula McLain for Ballantine books. Yes, a novel based on the many real facts of Hemingway’s first marriage to a girl from St. Louis, and all that happened to them in the Paris and Spain of the 1920’s after World War I.

This is one of the most readable and best new fictions of 2011.

One Response so far.

  1. avatar mylilmargie says:

    It will be interesting to see if the real story of the Duke & Duchess is told.  Like the fact that he was always fond of married women, that she was a fortune hunter and that they were Nazi sympathizers and anti-semite.  Somehow these facts make me less than interested in two very self centered people.  And this fact are pretty well documented altho I don’t think  that at the time, the English people were made aware of the Duke’s attitude and that he was basically a traitor.