Flora's Reviews > The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten, 1960-1980

The Killing of the Unicorn by Peter Bogdanovich
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Mar 23, 2008

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bookshelves: hard-to-say, auto-and-biography

A bizarre, unclassifiable book. Peter Bogdanovich wrote it after his lover/leading lady Dorothy Stratten -- 1980's Playmate of the Year -- died at the hand of her husband in a particularly gruesome murder-suicide, a tragedy later depicted in Bob Fosse's terrifying and terrific "Star 80." (In a particularly discomfiting twist, Bogdanovich later married her sister Louise, who was twelve years old at the time of Stratten's death. They have since divorced.) It's hard to say precisely what this book *is*: a memoir, a biography, a screed against the misogyny of Playboy (on whose shoulders, ultimately, he lays blame), or a long, low death knell for a very young woman whom this much older man knew for a very short time. A brief on-set affair (she was costarring in his "They All Laughed" at the time) becomes, in the wake of her death, a star-crossed romance of Shakespearean proportions, and the pathos extends from Stratten's short life and ugly death to Bogdanovich, but not in the way that he intends. More than anything, this fascinating, maddening book is a portrait of the delusive narcissism of grief: every time the light in his car inexplicably blinks on and off, it's Dorothy. When a cat shows up at his door, it's Dorothy. Bogdanovich outlines the numerological providence of their relationship with meticulous inattention to reality, and, like all melancholics, presumes from his beloved an eternal devotion that outdistances his own. Dorothy Stratten's is a terribly sad story, but this book isn't it. This is mythology, the steadfast refusal of a bereaved lover to mourn.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Andrew Schwartz I consider this book a fictional biogtaphy; the bizaare behavior after Dorothy's death, especially his immede attention to the younger siste just enyering her teen years. A .slanted memoir of a man I believe cannot remember his own reality.... Classified as a biography?More the diary of a msd man.

I read the book after the movie...thinking movies are (mever as good as yhr books; this violates that old adage.

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