MY MOTHER'S KEEPER by B.D. Hyman Morrow; 347 pages; $17.95 Scandal began with the first motion picture, but the modern sharper-than-a-serpent's-tooth era can be traced to 1978 and the appearance of Mommie Dearest, the harsh memoir of Joan Crawford. My Mother's Keeper, by B.D. Hyman, is even more acrimonious. Joan Crawford was dead a year when the revenge was taken. Bette Davis is still alive and ticking. B. (for Barbara) D. (for Davis) Hyman declares that the front door is always open to her estranged mother. But only a masochist would enter after the appearance of this seething volume. According to the author, the Mother Goddam of movies for four decades was something else offscreen. The paranoid figure saw herself as a feminine version of Gulliver. "Never relax," she warned B.D., "or the Lilliputians will climb up your legs and devour your soul." No defect goes uncharted, from the star's alcoholism to violent maledictions from her fourth husband, Actor Gary Merrill: "The only people who can be around you for long without wanting to kill you are faggots."
Physical catastrophes of old age, among them strokes and a mastectomy, follow like biblical punishments. If pity is contained in these pages, it is intended for the author, not her subject. B.D. now lives in the Bahamas, 3,000 miles from Hollywood, but My Mother's Keeper has distanced her even further from her mother, and from reticence and common decency.
CONFESSIONS OF A HOOKER by Bob Hope as told to Dwayne Netland Doubleday; 230 pages; $17.95 Since he first visited an indoor driving range in Manhattan back in the '30s, the standup octogenarian has played on nearly 2,000 golf courses around the world. With an amalgam of Friars roast hostilities and fund-raiser geniality, Bob Hope says thanks for the memories to the pros and putters who have helped the game. Along the fairway he observes the links style of most Presidents since Eisenhower. When Ike met Hope in wartime Algiers, the general's first words were "How's your golf?" The athletic J.F.K. was too "restless" to play well, and Richard Nixon displayed a strange combination of obsession and guilelessness. Gerald Ford, of course, "made golf a contact sport." Reagan "once broke 100 and that's pretty good for a man on horseback." Hope saves his real affection for celebrities little known for their low handicaps, including Humphrey Bogart and Ruby Keeler. The wildest amateur: Babe Ruth. The smoothest: Joe Louis. Even nongolfers can enjoy the gossip, the jokes and some 100 black-and-white photographs of performers and politicians. Although Hope claims that his scores are now closer to his weight than his age, his follow-through has seldom been better.