Not quite what I was expecting from this memoir. The book summary leads you to believe that it’s going to be a horrific kind of story, which it is but...moreNot quite what I was expecting from this memoir. The book summary leads you to believe that it’s going to be a horrific kind of story, which it is but not quite to the degree that you’re initially led to believe compared to similar style memoirs. The story is about how Zarah Ghahramani was taken from the streets of Tehran by the police and interrogated for speaking out against the regime, participating in student rallies and other offences. She intersperses these nightmarish recollections with stories of her happy childhood and naivete as a university student who believed that she could change the society she lived in without consequences.
Ghahramani’s story recounts her 30 days spent in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. It’s well-written in a very formal style but it doesn’t feel like dense narration even if there is very little dialog. The author does a good job of conveying the fear that she feels making the reader feel like they're able to see her constant state of paranoia and hyper sensitivity because she never really knows what’s going to happen. She goes back and forth between her life prior to being held prisoner to her life as a prisoner and she makes the reader see the difference in the person she was and the person she is becoming. It’s as if she felt she walked around with blinders on and then suddenly she really saw the world around her for what it was.
Throughout her stay, she’s beaten, humiliated, starved and tortured mentally. She befriends a man in the cell above her who has been in Evin for 10 years for murder and seems to have lost his mind. She hates speaking to him but at the same time it’s the only connection to another person she has while she is there. She never knows when she’s going to be interrogated or if she’ll ever be freed. This constant state of limbo gnaws away at her will to live and the reader understands why she would want to kill herself if she had the opportunity instead of continuing life as she now knows it.
Unfortunately the ending was too abrupt and there are loose ends that could’ve been tied up with an epilogue. You don’t know what happened to the man she spoke to in prison, her well-to do boyfriend or her political activist friend who was apparently her lawyer. Some of that didn’t make sense leaving the reader wondering what happened to so and so. I also would’ve liked an epilogue to know what she is doing now and how she has been living since her incarceration. There’s a bit of a blurb on the dust jacket about how she now lives in Australia and has found happiness there with her husband but that was it.
The memoir overall is well-written without it getting boring or the author going into an incessant diatribe about the Iranian governement but it’s missing a few things which makes it a borderline 3.5-4 star read. (less)
This turned out to be a surprisingly good memoir. I’m not much of a memoir reader because I don’t like heavy narration, but you never feel weighed dow...moreThis turned out to be a surprisingly good memoir. I’m not much of a memoir reader because I don’t like heavy narration, but you never feel weighed down by it in this book. I wanted to read the book mostly for the 90210 dirt (lol!) and yes there was some of that but there was a lot more too that grabbed my interest and kept me reading.
Spelling chronicles her childhood up to her marriage with current husband Dean. The book is generally well-divided so that ample time is spent talking about her childhood, teenage years and early adulthood. The book goes up to when she had her first baby Liam. It starts out with a “grass is always greener on the other side” tone but then as she tells her story you come to realize that her childhood and teenage years especially were more of what her mother wanted instead of what she may have wanted. She talks about how she doesn’t like confrontations, is quite shy and how she tried time and again to change and be more assertive but it rarely lasted. Many times you can feel her fear or her desire to just keep everyone smiling so that no one gets mad at her. She pokes fun at herself throughout the book which is what helps the reader identify with some parts of her life or at least be able to appreciate her situation instead of thinking “oh yeah, Tori Spelling, really hard life there”. True, financially she had everything she sort of wanted but there was such pettiness and downright meanness from her mother that it’s a wonder she just didn’t curl up and disappear or spiral into some kind of addiction or other. My hat’s off to her for being so tenacious and doing everything in her power to get what she wanted out of life.
The memoir is written almost like she’s having a conversation with you and telling you about her life the way you would catch up with a long lost friend. It’s funny at times as well as sad. Early on I wondered why she felt the need to air her “dirty laundry” for the whole world to see, but then she goes to explain that so many things have been written about her she just wanted to tell the stories from her point of view. She’s no flighty dumb blond either. Yes she made mistakes which she acknowledges and really she says she was just very naive at times. She never blames the press either saying that they’re just doing their job and it’s up to the individual to be vigilant which she learned the hard way. If anything her name was more of a hindrance to everything from having friends to holding down a job in acting. There are a lot of “jibes” at her mother who must not have been the best kind of mother around and that’s putting it mildly. Some things that woman did just break your heart and leave you wondering “why?”.
I found the chapter on her first marriage somewhat long winded but after getting through it you certainly have an understanding of why she married the guy. Like anyone’s life she’s had her ups and downs with crazy family members and not so nice friends and that’s pretty much what she’s trying to say.
As far as memoirs go this was very readable. If you’re interested in Tori Spelling’s life up to her early thirties or just an interesting memoir, I’d certainly recommend giving this a shot. (less)
A Kafka-esque story that will send chills down your spine because it’s actually true; too bad it’s such a dry, flat read. It’s worth more 3.5 stars th...moreA Kafka-esque story that will send chills down your spine because it’s actually true; too bad it’s such a dry, flat read. It’s worth more 3.5 stars than just three because the author was able to make this mess into something that the average reader could understand.
This is the story of ex-CIA spy Valerie Plame-Wilson whose cover was blown by the government that employed her all out of pure spite because her husband, a diplomat, told the powers that be that there was no cause to go to war with Iraq.
Having read her story in the media I always found it extremely confusing and chaotic to make heads or tails of the whole thing. Granted this is her side of the story but there is so much evidence that she provides explaining how all she was doing was her job, something she did well, and people in the White House took it upon themselves to ruin her to get to her husband. The nightmare that these people went through really reminded me of Kafka’s novel The Trial where you’re wondering what kind of twilight zone you walked into.
The first half of the book chronicles her life in the CIA and how she moved up in ranks to become a spy tracking the proliferation of WMDs around the world. She felt she did her job as any true patriot would, she fell in love later in life and got married and had twins. A lot of the first half of the book is hard to appreciate because the government has redacted several paragraphs, individual lines or just the odd word in various chapters so there are holes. What makes no sense though is that the person she wrote the book with, Laura Rozen, was able to recount nearly all of the holes in the extensive Afterward. Many chapter written by the Plame-Wilson had an accompanying chapter by Rozen in the Afterward. According to Rozen, the government was fine with that because it was public knowledge but the main author could not say the same things herself. A very WTF moment. And the story continues like that. There are some parts where she gets more personal like how she tried to deal with post partum depression or she tries to describes family dinners etc but it felt like filler and didn’t match the tone of the rest of the book.
In the second half things get more interesting because it talks about how she was exposed, who did it, why, the ramifications etc, which still makes for some dry reading but you manage to keep turning the pages because you just can’t believe the number of roadblocks that were put in her way to try to silence her. It was as if the government wanted her killed (they denied her family security even though she received threats) or at least in harm’s way so that she would be frightened enough to stop her investigation into who leaked her cover. What’s even more frightening is that not only was her cover blown, but all the people overseas who may have spoken to her were now in danger (and these were foreigners who helped the US government) and the same went for the sudden danger for her family and friends who were now exposed as being related to her. They tried to ostracize her from everyone but she didn’t give up.
It was disgusting to read that President Bush had commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence when all the facts were there but that seems to be how the previous Administration worked with all these back alley dealings and hush hush meetings. Plame-Wilson's career was ruined and she had to move to another state and all for what? Just makes your hair stand on end.
It’s a disturbing story as well as a cautionary tale for anyone wanting to tell a truth that the powers that be aren’t prepared to hear. (less)
As a lover of the tv show The Brady Bunch I really wanted to read Maureen McCormick’s memoir. For some weird reason I just figured her life was pretty...moreAs a lover of the tv show The Brady Bunch I really wanted to read Maureen McCormick’s memoir. For some weird reason I just figured her life was pretty much like Marcia Brady’s but it turned out to be the complete opposite. This was one of the reasons why she wrote the book so she could tell the real story which was nothing like her character Marcia’s. It was a quick read with interesting tidbits but also a whole lot of sadness that’s still going on in her life.
It starts out with some very horrible old family secrets that always come back to haunt her. She goes on to talk about her life as a child actress and eventually landing the role that people will forever identify her with: Marcia Brady the oldest daughter of the Brady clan. Turns out she hated being remembered for only being Marcia even though she enjoyed being on the show. There are some juicy tidbits on the actors who played the Brady’s but most of the book focuses on the trials and tribulations in her life. She talks about her lovers, life as a washed up actress and how hard that was for her as well as how a lot of people still tried to help her get back on her feet during some very dark times. It’s a wonder she lived to tell the story because she’s been through some frightening things from paralyzing drug addiction to abortions, depression and messed up family members. The book is generally well written and has a very readable down to earth style though the drug addiction phase of her life was a little long. She seems to be very open and forthright about a lot of aspects of her life. She gives the impression that she’s reached 50 now and to hell with it all this is my life like it or not I don’t really care.
The story starts and ends with the Brady’s as the framework however when you look at her life you can’t help but wonder how she managed to get to where she is in one piece. An uplifting story that shows that with the help of people who truly love you (her husband should be canonized) anyone can change if they really want to. (less)
Well here’s a memoir filled with sadness, tragedy and outright horror but it’s told in such a no holds barred in your face upbeat way that you really...moreWell here’s a memoir filled with sadness, tragedy and outright horror but it’s told in such a no holds barred in your face upbeat way that you really have to give Alison Arngrim (alias the evil Nellie Oleson, Laura’s arch nemesis on tv’s “Little House on the Prairie”) credit for writing it the way she did. Memoirs tend to follow a pattern: this is why I’m writing it, my life was not normal, horrible things happened, I survived, I’m in a good place now. She does pretty much the same thing but because it’s told in such a “when life gives you lemons you make lemonade” kind of way you can’t help but admire her.
A fair portion of the book is dedicated to her life as a child actress on Little House. She was great friends with Melissa Gilbert who played Laura as well as just about everyone else on the set except for Melissa Sue Anderson who played Mary. Some jibes there throughout the story, nothing outright mean but you could certainly tell that there was no love lost between the two. There are some gossipy bits revealed about other actors and actresses she encountered during her career. She talks about her very warped family life, gives a brief history of her parents near rags to riches story, and then briefly goes into how she became a political activist, AIDS activist and child activist as an adult and still does this. She’s adamant that her role as the mean Nellie Oleson is what has opened doors for her well after the show was over and also after her acting career was over as she ventured into different areas. It’s as if she was meant to play the part so that she could eventually do what she’s doing now: helping people. She’s still quite happy to be identified with Nellie and in no way hated the character which often happens with other actors once they’re typecast.
A lot of the book talks about life over the years on the set of Little House so if you’re a fan you’ll really enjoy those parts. Each chapter starts off with some hilarious lines from the some of the episodes and there are a few sidebars in the chapters with some Little House trivia that was fun to read.
This book could easily have been written with a very serious tone similar to several other memoirs out there, just the facts would change. What makes this one stand out is that she’s very much “hey shit happens move on”. She’s very funny at times and other times a bit over the top. My one minor complaint is that sometimes she’s a little too flippant regarding some topics and it could seem like it’s a forced kind of “voice” to keep the book consistent in tone when that wasn’t always necessary.
Overall it was an enjoyable read that brought back some nice memories about a great show and under all that there’s an underlying message that seems to say you may be only one person but it takes just one person to try and maybe even succeed in changing some really big things. 4.5 stars for me. :) (less)
I listened to the audio book version and it was funny and interesting for the most part. Fey describes her childhood, how she got into show business,...moreI listened to the audio book version and it was funny and interesting for the most part. Fey describes her childhood, how she got into show business, her subsequent fame and then she jumps into her life now as a mom and working woman.
The show biz details get a bit boring and the book tends to drag around that point in the middle but it picks up when she starts talking about how her career took off when she took on the role of Sarah Palin. She's funniest when she talks about her childhood, being a mom and the nasty email letters she sometimes received.
I think I may have preferred the printed book instead of the audiobook because at times some things didn't sound as funny spoken as they may have written especially when there's this sudden bout of coarse language that just doesn't blend all that well. The ending felt like it was missing something and that it just came out of nowhere.
As far as memoirs go though it's pretty good and easy to listen to.(less)