Writing in second person is like using a high-end chef's knife: it should be done very carefully, by people who understand what a tricky thing it is.Writing in second person is like using a high-end chef's knife: it should be done very carefully, by people who understand what a tricky thing it is. There were some interesting insights here, but the process of reading it felt a bit like trudging through 250 pages of a Dick and Jane primer....more
The interviews all come across as a little too linear and polished, but I'm thankful to have this book as a resource and a way in to the minds of thesThe interviews all come across as a little too linear and polished, but I'm thankful to have this book as a resource and a way in to the minds of these artists. It's great to see all these women in the context of one another....more
This book taps into several different fascinations of mine, and I was so excited to get my hands on it. Overall, though, the construction seems fairlyThis book taps into several different fascinations of mine, and I was so excited to get my hands on it. Overall, though, the construction seems fairly thoughtless and what should be really interesting ends up coming across as lifeless and dull. There are some great photographs here, but the presentation is disappointing....more
Only die-hard theater nerds will probably be interested in this memoir. I think I am eligible because I distinctly remember performing numbers from LuOnly die-hard theater nerds will probably be interested in this memoir. I think I am eligible because I distinctly remember performing numbers from LuPone's Irving Berlin album "Heatwave" in the back room of our house when I was 12.
The ghost-written celebrity memoir is a special animal, not often read for its groundbreaking narrative arc or use of lilting prose. The writing style here is especially grating--apart from some of LuPone's signature sarcasm, the language here is rather boring and unimaginative. Digby Diehl, who has co-written dozens of these celeboirs, should have a better handle on this kind of thing by now.
LuPone is loved, but she is hardly lovable. Although she makes it evident that none of the drama in her career (and there has been plenty, both on-stage and off) has ever been her fault--it was always a rude co-worker or a money-hungry producer who was to blame. Highs and lows are recounted here, and failure is always treated as "a lesson learned." But in spite of the fact that LuPone posits herself as blameless, she also doesn't convey herself as the warmest and fuzziest of individuals. She is consistently boastful, catty and completely uninterested in winning you to her side.
But enough of ripping her to shreds--although she seems to be a genuine trouble-maker, it is this drama that keeps her fans captivated. She's big, brassy and can belt, all the things we look for in a musical theater diva. She might not be the most huggable of human beings, she has a talent that can fill a theater.
There are great little gossipy moments here and some stating the obvious for those of us who love theater: producers are sketchy, Andrew Lloyed Webber is highly overrated, and not every broadway success or failure deserves its fate. If you love the broadway stage, you'll breeze through LuPone's memoir, not for its polish or its insight, but because you love the backstage madness as much as you love the 11 o'clock number.
Other thoughts (because I could go on for days):
-LuPone seems to believe that actresses are due a level of courtesy that she doesn't often extend to others. For example, her claim that Arthur Laurents has "all but tried to forget" the 2005 Sam Mendes broadway adaptation of "Gypsy" is a clear slap in the face to Bernadette Peters (whom she otherwise doesn't mention, and who also, in my clearly-outnumbered opinion, turned in a finer, more intricately-drawn portrayal of Mama Rose)
-A couple key moments are left out of the book entirely, including her 2009 breakdown when she stopped her big finale number in "Gypsy" to yell at a man taking photographs with a flash. This is, I'm sure, a moment that most fans and readers are dying to know about, and it seems like a great chance for her to be able to explain herself. Tell us this most interesting story from your own perspective! ...more
It's difficult to be a writer of creative nonfiction and not have a range of feelings about David Sedaris. He is the giant in the field, the one who eIt's difficult to be a writer of creative nonfiction and not have a range of feelings about David Sedaris. He is the giant in the field, the one who everyone knows, even people who care little about writing or reading at all. When I explain the type of writing I do, I often hear "oh, like David Sedaris!?"
That can be frustrating. And, as a reader and writer, I think Sedaris has some other flaws--sometimes his work is a little too precious, the ends often tie up a little too nicely, and he occasionally has a tenuous relationship with the truth (which often gets blown off as "why do you people even care if he is telling the truth?," but for people in the business of trying to find universal threads of humanity, truth matters), but the plain and simple fact is that he understands and can clearly convey the human experience in a way that few others can.
That said, what makes these short animal parables so brilliant for me is the way that they each capture some very human element. You have met these animals before in the people you interact with on a daily basis. This collection is Sedaris at his darkest (and bloodiest), but many of these pieces are deeply touching and, of course, funny. ...more
I read these essays out of order for a class on experimental writing styles. I alternate back and forth between finding D'Agata one of the most unbearI read these essays out of order for a class on experimental writing styles. I alternate back and forth between finding D'Agata one of the most unbearably pretentious writers ever ("Notes Toward the Making of a Whole Human Being") and one of the most beautifully observant ("Round Trip").
The Joan Didion influence here is obvious in every line, and the artistry is evident. I would have an easier time loving D'Agata if he wasn't so clearly in love with himself....more