"Our legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give, altering someone’s plan - if even for a moment - and getting them to think, rage, c
"Our legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give, altering someone’s plan - if even for a moment - and getting them to think, rage, cry, laugh, argue...Walk around the block, dazed...More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles; the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the ones we bestow on a total stranger, who needed it RIGHT THEN, and God put you there to deliver." - Carrie Louise Hamilton
There are so damn many bits and pieces in this book that get you to FEEL. Okay, yeah, granted most of those feels are LOLs but, guys; that book's opening was a ninja-chop. TO MY HEART!
But real talk for a second, friends - I’m not exactly sure how unbiased this review is gonna be, because I read this book and wrote this review not even one month after my mom passed. And yep, you guessed it! Carol Burnett was, you know, aside from a damn diamond, she was also an entertainer mom and I both loved with all of our big mushy emotions. I'll try to keep my tears in my eyes rather than on my face, but just please trust my happy heart when I say...reading This Time Together? It was fun like fun never funned before!
If you're wanting to get the 411 backstory on Carol Burnett, then no. Big no. This is not your cookie. Why? Because This Time Together is our funny girl’s second memoir, with the first being all about how she did the growing up, and this one being all about her stardom.
And trust, it's not as bore-tacular as I'm making it sound, because these 266 pages are jammed up the spine with fun, funny, feeling-packed anecdotes. Fancy, puffed up autobiographies can bite my butt-meat, because no. Reading an A to Z celebrity-success road map retelling is not my idea of a fun afternoon. I’m not here for that nonsense, but I AM here for storytelling. Carol Burnett, bless her, is a modern day bard, having written this second memoir to be all that and a big of chips. Reading this felt like she was plopped down right by my side, chatting me up over a bowl of Cheerios.
The book isn’t a big serving of emotionalism, because in reading it I didn’t really get the sense it was written to explore a lot of who Carol was. That’s not to say there aren’t occasional touching moments here, there, and yonder, but for the most part its a book for the fans.
That said, one of the few Carol-centric stories also turned out to be the one that had me laughing the hardest. Before reading This Time Together, I didn’t know that Ms. Burnett was a huge soap opera fan, specifically of the show As The World Turns.
Yes, dumb-ass fangirl is a dumb-ass, because DUR; her variety show takeoff As The Stomach Turns shoulda been my first clue, but alas no. Yes I’m digressing out the ass, so back on topic; point is, apparently while on a European family vacation trip, she instructed her assistant to include daily episode synopses in his telegrams. Well, come 2-something in the morning, the hotel staff goes pounding on their door. They staff is all aflutter because lo and behold there’s a telegram which reads…
“Eric was kidnapped and has been found in a coma. Mark slipped again and ran away from rehab. He hasn’t been found. Mona has to have exploratory surgery. Doesn’t look good. Chuck has learned that Donna, who’s carrying his baby, was once a hooker. Donna’s husband, Palmer, is still in the dark. The woman posing as Brooke’s mother is wanted by the police. Phoebe is back on the bottle. Hope you’re having a great trip. Love, Rick.”
I swear I laughed for 2 solid minutes reading that glorious misunderstanding!
There were countless fun stories which I treasure SO damn hard, not least of which is hey! Did you guys know that, before our girl hit it big, she actually scared off a wouldbe mugger using her Tarzan yell and various other whack-a-doodle volcalizations and antics? I find that so cool, probably because I think Carol was so cool. I mean, you GOTTA have one hell of a personality to lie about having a wooden leg after being yelled at for being so uncouth to wear slacks instead of a dress in an ice cream parlor.
BLESS CAROL DARLING, HARD!
She doesn’t often wax sentimental or philosophic...at least not overtly. One of my favorite chapters was about the day she and Lucille Ball were having dinner together at the Farmer’s Market.
“In those days, though, it was unheard of for a woman to run a show, let alone to run it ‘like a man.’ All the greats - Caesar, Berle, Gleason, et cetera - could say whatever they very well pleased, and their reputations remained intact. They were tough, and that was to be expected, but a woman being tough? There was a name for that, and it wasn’t complimentary.”
I freaking ADORE how you get a subtle hint as to who Carol was just by reading between those lines.
Most of the book is filled with little snippets about people and places like that, small events in her life with very little opinion thrown into the mix, and honestly? I’m okay with that. Yeah, it could just be my bias talking *cough*OwnsACarolBarbieDoll*cough**cough*...
...I like to think not. After all, the book’s opening, that paragraph I jump started this review with, remember? Those were Carol’s daughter’s words; the daughter she lost to cancer in 2002.
From what little I know, there’s a lot of things I like about Carol Burnett, both as a woman and as an entertainer.
I like that she fought against the status quo, yet in her own quiet way.
I like that she survived an alcoholic, dysfunctional family, and came out all the stronger for it.
I like that she was okay with moving past relationships once they had run their course, having been married a few times, and even being now married to a man much younger than she.
Put it simply, I like Carol.
But above all my laughter and smiling and admiring, I like that she wrote a book that allowed me to feel closer to my mom during the initial days I was the farthest from her. And, most importantly, I like the poignant words with which she opened and closed her second memoir. They spoke to me with the same unshakable truths about my own mom...and dammit now I’m getting emotional again.
QUICK SOMEBODY MAKE A FART JOKE...There. Much better.
Point is, this book may or may not be your cup of tea, depending on what you want out of it. For me, it was a fun little trip to Carol Burnetteville, and dammit I can’t wait to go back.
(If you like my writing voice or you think I’m funny...[or you really just wanna laugh at a fangirl for fangirling]...then SHAMELESS YOUTUBE CHANNEL PLUG IS SHAMELESS! I review romance novels and Asian dramas, so that is a thing and now you know.)
Not sixty seconds ago did I finish reading Katharine's words, all of them, and I am floored with emotions. So many feelings, so many chaotic sensation
Not sixty seconds ago did I finish reading Katharine's words, all of them, and I am floored with emotions. So many feelings, so many chaotic sensations tumbling through my body that I turn laughably poetic at just trying to express how deeply I am moved.
I've read many novels in my life, many nonfictional works designed to engage me, make me think, entertain me, do something. And, yet, of the no doubt thousand bindings of paper and electronic ink I've perused, never, ever, have I felt as I do now. That is not hyperbole, or dramatization, that is simplistic fact.
Oh, yes, I'm a fan of Kath's movie, sure. I have my favorites, and she's certainly unique on screen as she is...was...in life. But, reading Me: Stories of my Life gave me what I always have wished for, what I used to dream about as a little kid, seeing Desk Set for the first time with no real comprehension of the plot. All I knew was this pretty lady, with her pretty eyes and even prettier voice was fun. I liked her. Then, as I have until just tonight, I always wished to sit down with Kate, Kath, Miss Hepburn...to just...listen to her, and her words. Thank God she wrote this book, because I finally got that chance.
Some would no doubt bemoan this book's meandering structure, its lighting-fast pace and jumpy sequencing, but not I. Rather, I feel blessed this book has such uniqueness, because, as is obvious, it's befitting of its creator. Oh, there are flaws, no question. Superfluous "wrongs," such as a few dialogue entrances between Kate and William Rose and some such thing about planting plants, removing plants? And, no reflection on Desk Set. Three flaws, really, when considering it now. And, that's it. Three parts of lackluster in a 418 page volume. Three moments. Is it any wonder she was so fascinating?
It's cliche, but I laughed, I smiled...and, shockingly, I cried. Throughout the book, I had fun. It was engaging, and an intimate saga that satisfied me, but tears; that I absolutely did not expect. I read this to hear whatever Kate wanted to tell, and did not hold to any expectations in regards to Spence. In truth, Miss Hepburn held off on his subject until almost the very end, and such was perfectly fine by me, truly. First, she tells of a relationship which, for me, took the romance out of "Spence and Kate," for the picture she painted, and happily so, was one of total isolation and sacrifice on her part. In point of fact, Kate notes not even being sure if Spence loved her, or how he felt about her as a woman.
Upon reading the above, well, I first got angry on her behalf. Stupid me. For, really, how could I? I'm not she, and she was happy...truly, truly happy with Spence. I thought I would surely read through the "Spencer" segment of her work with smiles, but certainty not emotional heart-wrenching. Damn, I was so wrong. Kath tantalized us with "Her and Spence," her first segment about him entitled "Spencer," at page 275. It's short, barely three pages, and ends with "But more about Spencer later. Don't be impatient. I wasn't." Oh, so typical Kate. I read that, and heard her voice, so clearly, so tangibly in my head, my ear. Classic Kate.
Interestingly, the book somewhat concludes with Spencer, starting with the chapter "Love," all the way later at page 389. This is where my heart hurt for her, the story she relates with no martyrdom of how, frankly, she loved him and gave him her all, but never knew if Spencer was hers, truly hers. I'm angry here, but not long into the "Leaving the California House" chapter, I'm bawling. Bawling like a little baby with massive tears rolling down my face. I can't see the words on the page, so much I am crying. And, this emotional gut-punch concludes with the most beautiful, powerhouse, tell-all-subtly letter to Spencer that Kate wrote after his death. What's more, this is not by any means the first time I've heard this letter. Below is the link to Kate herself reading it, verbatim, and as within every viewing of the video, I cried right along with the transcript in the book.
But...what amazes me is that this work impacted me with a gut-slam of emotion at the end. Throughout my absorption of the book, and, hell, my whole inspiration and desperation for reading it was because I wanted to know. I desperately, tirelessness wanted to know how she thought, what she did, what her struggles, her triumphs, her goals, her family, her childhood, her career...what all that was like. Her father, mother, siblings, loss, love, growth. I sound like a stalker, and I probably am, being half (oh, hell, all) in love with Katharine Hepburn. I'm so many generations removed from her, and I bet she's laughing at me in the afterlife right this very minute. She pursued Hollywood for the goal of fame, but she wasn't much for being admired. What a contradiction.
You were both, darling, and we miss you so terribly. You'd no doubt laugh at the cliche, but the world truly sucks more for your absence.
"Our house is gone - Victorian Gothic - three gables, trimmed with black lace. The driveway - the trees - gracious, simple - the brook - the daffodils. Gone. Even the brook has been put into a pipe. Well, that's the style today - pipe things - can things - freeze things - computerize things. Have to be careful about that. You can't develop a mind full of beauty or tender imagination and independence of spirit tearing along in a box without a bit of space and air - number XY-133-609-00. Well, yes, there are indeed so many of us and we've got to make room. "
“Everyone knew everyone. They – that is, most of them – came from Washington Street in Hartford. They were Brainards and Brainerds and Davises and Bulkeleys and Buckleys and Goodwins. They were very nice – very Republican – very Aetna Life Insurance.”
"All of a sudden I heard: "Kate! Kate! Come here!" His tone of voice made me leap out of the tub. I rushed in. Luddy was in flames - a trail of flames to the fireplace. The kerosene can in Luddy's hand burning and he couldn't drop it. I was stark naked. I belted Luddy in the stomach, knocked him down, grabbed a throw rug, smothered the fire on Luddy and knocked the kerosene can out of his poor hand - yelled, FIRE!"
"He was an angel. However big the flop. "Well, I don't know, Miss Hepburn. They just love you. That's all I can say. I just hear what they say. You're the greatest." All those heartwarming lies. They keep you going. Those liars who love you and protect you. For better or for worse. Till death do us part. How lucky I've been."
"Howard Hughes was a curious fellow. He had guts and he had a really fine mind, but he was deaf - quite seriously deaf - and he was apparently incapable of saying, "Please speak up. I'm deaf."...This was tragic...This is the real tragedy of any sort of personal defect. Just say it. Admit it. The person you say it to is not at all embarrassed. He or she just speaks up. He's just happy that he himself is not deaf. I think that this weakness went a long way toward ruining Howard's life and making him into an oddball."
"Then we got Cary Grant for the $150,000 for three weeks' work. He said that he would do it and that he wanted first billing over me. "O.K.," I said, "that's easy." He gave his salary to the Red Cross."
"It's rather the style now to romanticize certain of the older actors...No matter what you want to say, you just can't toss the parental figure. You can spit on it all you like, but eventually it has to come back. It's the strong thing to us, because it affects us very early on. It's something you can cling to."
"John Wayne is the hero of the thirties and forties and most of the fifties. Before the creeps came creeping in. Before, in the sixties, the male hero slid right down into the valley of the weak and the misunderstood. Before the women began dropping any pretense to virginity into the gutter. With a disregard for truth which is indeed pathetic. And unisex was born. The hair grew long and the pride grew short. And we were off to the anti-hero and -heroine."
"Now, why don't you stop, Kath - just admit it. You're dead and go in and take a bath and lie down...No, I'm not going to do that. I'm too proud. I'm going to stay out here and struggle until they quit or until I die."
"And anyway, down went the tire and off came the lugs. Then he jacked her up again and on went the good tire so that the tire spun free. On went the screws again, and holding them with the handle wrench, he spun the tire, to wind one up. Great, thrilling - a ballet. So lovely - to change a tire, to know what you're doing. Head down, enjoying it."
"Now I'm going to tell you about Spencer. You may think you've waited a long time. But let's face it, so did I. I was thirty-three. It seems to me I discovered what "I love you" really means. It means I put you and your interests and your comfort ahead of my own interests and my own comfort because I love you. What does this mean?...Think. We use this expression very carelessly. LOVE has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get - only with what you are expecting to give - which is everything."
"I have no idea how Spence felt about me. I can only say I think that if he hadn't liked me he wouldn't have hung around. As simple as that. He wouldn't talk about it and I didn't talk about it. We just passed twenty-seven years together in what was to me absolute bliss. It is called LOVE."