It took me a long time to read this book because the subject matter is quite painful. It was a bit like reading someone's journal... I felt almost gui...moreIt took me a long time to read this book because the subject matter is quite painful. It was a bit like reading someone's journal... I felt almost guilty being privy to some of it. I think it may be the first mainstream book that intersects gay (female) identity with body image issues, and the author goes very deep into it. The ending is triumphant and, I hope, earned. (less)
This is a curiosity. It bills itself as the untold story of Brad and Angie, but it is really mostly about her, including bizarre digressions into topi...moreThis is a curiosity. It bills itself as the untold story of Brad and Angie, but it is really mostly about her, including bizarre digressions into topics of sibling incest, mental illness, and lesbianism. The author, a journalist, does some undercover work to try to determine if Angie is really just a freak pulling the wool over everyone's eyes with a carefully managed public image. No sooner does he seem poised to draw this conclusion than he bellyflops and decides that Saint Angelina is the real deal. Then, strangely enough, he claims the relationship won't last until 2011. The problem? Angie's "cobra" temper and pervasive drug use.
This book is sloppily written, with a large font and liberal spacing. Poorly copyedited as well. (less)
I have a mildly sick fascination with the Phillips family. I read both "Papa John" and "California Dreamin' " back when they came out and it didn't ta...moreI have a mildly sick fascination with the Phillips family. I read both "Papa John" and "California Dreamin' " back when they came out and it didn't take much to get me in line for Mac's book. Not sure why. I am not the age to be an original fan of either the Mamas and the Papas or "One Day at A Time" (et al). I guess I would lump this more under my fascination with dysfunctional families, particularly show biz ones. So... it would have taken more willpower than I have not to dip into Mac's harrowing tale. Maybe there is a 12 Step program for people like me who can't help themselves. (Do I need to pull out the "I got it at the library" excuse?) For the record, I believe Mac's tale of woe. There is no reason any sane person would make up these kinds of accusations, and her depiction of John Phillips' god-like entitlement makes perfect sense; he was a hedonist who thought he was above the law.
But, for this reader, who has already heard a lot about the family, this story feels like a re-tread. It's also a re-tread of numerous junkie/addict memoirs I have read. They all start to run together after a while. I usually spend time marveling at how the authors survive, given that they're often out of their minds and behind the wheel of vehicles. Then there is the amount of toxins they are ingesting. Usually I'm just relieved they have found their way out of this netherworld. If ever there were a strong anti-drug argument, it's stories like these. No one would want to live through this.(less)
I have an unabashed love of celebrity bios. I feel almost no guilt in reading them. There are a few rules though. I have to get them from the library...moreI have an unabashed love of celebrity bios. I feel almost no guilt in reading them. There are a few rules though. I have to get them from the library (natch) and they should not be longer than 275 pages. (Anyone can whittle their life down to that amount; it's called being succinct!) And, please, don't dwell on one's "life philosophy." I have never once read something in a celebrity bio that I would call "wisdom." Problem is, no matter who you are, your life lessons all start to sound the same after a while.
Maureen McCormick is my latest read. She hits all her marks. Her story is brief and surprisingly juicy. It says something about this book that the moment the author falls on the street and sees Jesus calling to her is one of the less outrageous details.
Turns out Ms. McCormick was an abusive wife. Not just an abusive wife... a born-again Christian abusive wife. You read that right: after giving her life over to Jesus, Mo turned on her husband. She slaps him around (I kid you not) and nearly drives him away. He stays because he's committed to God. I found these sections even more riveting than her lost cocaine years. Also, it can't be a coincidence that these bios (those written by women, anyway) always involve confessions of same-sex desire. Mo thought about it, mostly in Amsterdam. Not sure how she feels about the issue now.
Less interesting is her detail about her five seasons playing Marcia on 'The Brady Bunch.' About the only detail worth nothing is that she and Barry "Greg" Williams nearly got it on. Also, little lispy Cindy knew Robert Reed was gay before Mo did.
Oh, and by the end, Mo is being secretly videotaped by her brother who is threatening to ruin her career, all the while acting as kidnapper to their father.
The lighter side of drug addiction, manic depression, and having your father leave your mother for Elizabeth Taylor. Bonus: much dish about Carrie Fis...moreThe lighter side of drug addiction, manic depression, and having your father leave your mother for Elizabeth Taylor. Bonus: much dish about Carrie Fisher's twelve year relationship with Paul Simon. (The singer, not the politician.)(less)
Yes, it goes without saying that I'm embarrassed to have read this book. I got it from the library, that is my defense. Once I started it, it quickly...moreYes, it goes without saying that I'm embarrassed to have read this book. I got it from the library, that is my defense. Once I started it, it quickly became a book to devour. For one thing, the Spears have a family saga that is riveting. Lynne Spears once killed a boy by crashing into him! Dad Jamie is an abusive alcoholic! It all reads like a "Behind the Music" extravaganza. There are some things that don't quite add up (she glosses over a seven month estrangement between her and Britney) but overall this is a go-to for celebrity memoirs. If you think you know what a stage mother is, you may find yourself very surprised by Lynne Spears.(less)
This is a curious collection of musings by actress Debra Winger. They are heavy on artifice and short on dish, which is rather disappointing consideri...moreThis is a curious collection of musings by actress Debra Winger. They are heavy on artifice and short on dish, which is rather disappointing considering her colorful career. She isn't a bad writer (although some of her metaphors are strained and there are a few cliches) but I'm not sure what the point is of all this. By the final musing, I was resisting the desire to mock her pretension.
I would say, if you must, get it from the library and read it as the last of a few vacation reads. She's no Shirley Maclaine.(less)
I quite enjoyed Andrew Morton's take on the life and career of Madonna. From her modest Italian-American upbringing, to her days as a dance major in A...moreI quite enjoyed Andrew Morton's take on the life and career of Madonna. From her modest Italian-American upbringing, to her days as a dance major in Ann Arbor (who knew?), to her early days in New York (which sound like something out of "Rent"), the book's first half reads like a Horatio Alger success story. Once a recording contract and MTV come calling, her career trajectory is pure nostalgia for any kid of the '80s. You'll remember where you were when you first saw the video for "Lucky Star," first heard about (or saw) the MTV video music awards performance of "Like A Virgin," and recall the monstrosity of her marriage to Sean Penn. Most likely you didn't see her movies... I know I didn't... but her music will act as a soundtrack to her life and yours.
What's not to love? Although I am not a particular fan of Madonna (Ray of Light and Confessions of the Dance Floor are two exceptions), her career is certainly interesting. And, like any icon, her life is connected to your life. That is what makes these bios fun.(less)
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this memoir is that Kathleen Turner has lead a fairly normal life. She still rides the bus, does her own shopp...morePerhaps the most surprising thing about this memoir is that Kathleen Turner has lead a fairly normal life. She still rides the bus, does her own shopping, and -- with the exception of her on-set affair with Michael Douglas in the early '80s-- has had a pretty unglamorous love life. I was a fan of hers back in the '80s, mainly due to "Romancing the Stone" which is still one of my favorite movies. She had a reputation at that time for vanity, and I think that worked against her. Her career seemed to all but have dried up by the '90s, with the possible exception of "Serial Mom" and her appearances as Chandler Bing's "father" on "Friends." Her personal life took a turn for the worse when she was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age, then alcoholism.
All of this is detailed in 'Send Yourself Roses.' Turner has been through a lot and seems to have a pretty good attitude. She takes a no-holds-barred approach to dishing on her co-stars, which makes for a fun insider's look at Hollywood. She calls Burt Renyolds "nasty," suggests that William Hurt is a womanizer, and all but blames Nicolas Cage for her Oscar loss for "Peggy Sue Got Married." Best of all is her revelation that she and Michael Douglas had a high spirited affair on the Mexican set of "RTS" in 1983. I had never heard that (although I'm told it has been public knowledge for some time) and the details will delight any fan of those two.
Overall I think this book is uneven. The showbiz parts are fun, but Turner occasionally gets bogged down in to much detail about acting technique. She also spends a strange amount of time skewering critics who have skewered her. (That is their job, madam.) I would have prefered more dish on her movies, less of her philosophy of life (which includes way too much prostleyizing about the value of service.) Her style is prone to tangets, some of which she never recovers from.
But, who cares? It's a show biz memoir, ultimately, and a fun one at that.(less)