Reavill, Gil 1953–
Reavill, Gil 1953–
Born 1953; son of Acton (a packaging company employee) and Eloise (a teacher) Reavill; married Jean Zimmerman (a writer), April 26, 1987; children: one daughter.
Home— Westchester County, NY.
Los Angeles, photographs by Mark S. Wexler, Compass American Guides (Oakland, CA), 1992.
Hollywood: And the Best of Los Angeles, photographs by Mark S. Wexler, Compass American Guides (Oakland, CA), 1994.
(With wife, Jean Zimmerman)Manhattan, photographs by Michael Yamashita, Compass American Guides (Oakland, CA), 1994, 2nd edition, 1996, 3rd edition, 1999.
(With Jean Zimmerman)Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
Smut: A Sex Industry Insider (and Concerned Father) Says Enough Is Enough, Sentinel (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Jerry Heller)Ruthless, Simon Spotlight Entertainment (New York, NY), 2006.
Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up after CSI Goes Home, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Tiki Barber)Tiki, Simon Spotlight Entertainment (New York, NY), 2007.
Author, with Eric Saks and Chris Fisher, of screenplay for the motion picture Dirty, directed by Fisher, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Clifton Collins, Jr., and Wyclef Jean, released by Sony/Dimension Films, 2006. Contributor of articles to magazines and newspapers, including Maxim, Penthouse, and Village Voice.
Gil Reavill has amassed a diverse body of work, including travel guides, volumes on parental concerns, and magazine articles on real-life crimes, with the latter topic informing one of his books as well. He also has assisted celebrities in the writing of autobiographies, such as Ruthless, a portrait of rap-music mogul Jerry Heller, and has at times collaborated with his wife, Jean Zimmerman.
One of Reavill and Zimmerman's joint efforts is Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives. They note that the late twentieth century brought an increase in opportunities for girls to participate in competitive sports and discuss how this has enhanced girls' emotional health. They find, however, that boys' athletics receive more emphasis than girls', and they worry that this may discourage girls from becoming involved in sports. The book, commented Kathryn Ruffle in Library Journal, is both "inspirational" in its depiction of the progress girls have made and "a call to action to parents" to build on that progress.
Another work on an issue of interest to parents is Smut: A Sex Industry Insider (and Concerned Father) Says Enough Is Enough. Reavill calls himself an insider because he has worked for publications with sexual content, such as Maxim, Penthouse, and Screw. He is not in favor of censoring sexually explicit material, but he is upset about the degree to which sex, particularly in its more degrading aspects, permeates popular culture, including movies, television, and music. He recommends that the media practice a bit more restraint.
Some critics thought Reavill made his case well. His book provides "easy reading and realistic thinking" about a "perpetually vexing" subject, observed Ray Olson in Booklist, while a Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked that the author's "concern for our visual and aural everyday has merit." The latter reviewer, however, found that Reavill put too little stress on parents' responsibility to keep their offspring away from sexually oriented entertainment. "Who is to say that he can't offer alternatives?" the reviewer asked, nonetheless agreeing with Reavill's thinking on the proper cultural role for sex: as "the glittering sand on the beach, not the stuff kicked in our faces by thugs."
As his magazine work characterizes Reavill as a "sex industry insider," it also shows him to be a true-crime journalist, having written a column on this topic for Maxim for several years. He has noted, however, that he "had never visited a fresh crime scene" until he met the owners of a business that specializes in cleaning them up. His observations of that cleanup work led to the book Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up after CSI Goes Home, its title invoking the popular television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which has generated interest in forensic science.
The title also reflects the name of the business that revealed its inner workings to Reavill. He joined Aftermath, Inc. founders Tim Reifsteck and Chris Wilson, and their employees, on the job for a year. The firm's work is known as "bioremediation"—removing bodies and their parts, along with blood and other fluids, and returning the locations to a pristine state. Aftermath often plies its trade at scenes of murders, but it also attends to sites of suicides and "unattended" deaths from natural causes, meaning cases in which a body has gone undiscovered for several days or even weeks. Its assignments involve not only sights that may sicken the stomach but may also expose agents to more serious illness, such as the AIDS and hepatitis viruses. Reavill discusses Aftermath's workers as well as its work, and provides background on the victims involved in its cases.
Several reviewers praised Reavill's detailed portrayal of Aftermath's work and his ability to bring both humor and sympathy to the story. "Reavill grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go," related a Publishers Weekly critic. Those who do not blanch at his graphic descriptions, according to Bookslut contributor Sarah Statz, are "in for a fascinating read, which includes narrations of actual cleaning procedures, but also surprisingly nuanced interviews with the company's founders." Statz added: "Reavill leaves no gory detail untold, no victim or clean-up technician's character unprofiled, and he does it all with a certain morbid flair."
Sarah Weinman, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, found Reavill "a self-deprecating narrator well aware of how absurd, but also how normal, it is for a true-crime reporter to puke his guts out at what remains of a person's violent death." He displays "a sharp eye for the smallest detail" and provides easy-to-understand explanations of forensic science, she continued. Booklist reviewer Jerry Eberle also had positive words for these aspects of Reavill's work, but remarked that "it is his empathy for people that will affect readers most."
Weinman thought that "where the book falters somewhat is in its quest for higher meaning." Sometimes he finds answers to the "philosophical questions" his topic raises, sometimes not, she observed. A Kirkus Reviews commentator voiced a similar reservation, saying: "Reavill's metaphysical musings … seem rather pro forma." Through most of the book, however, Reavill writes "skillfully and with grace," this critic added, making the volume "an essential addition to any True Crime reader's library."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Smut: A Sex Industry Insider (and Concerned Father) Says Enough Is Enough, p. 1329; April 15, 2007, Jerry Eberle, review of Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up after CSI Goes Home, p. 10.
Entertainment Weekly, September 1, 2006, Michael Endelman, review of Ruthless, p. 81.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Smut, p. 219; March 15, 2007, review of Aftermath, Inc.
Library Journal, July, 1992, Thomas K. Fry, review of Los Angeles, p. 110; November 1, 1998, Kathryn Ruffle, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives, p. 93.
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 2007, Sarah Weinman, "Crime Scenes, the Ultimate Clean-Up Jobs."
Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2007, review of Aftermath, Inc., p. 53.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (June, 2007), Sarah Statz, review of Aftermath, Inc.