A HOLLYWOOD STAR’S JOURNEY WITH THE MEN IN HER LIFE — A REVIEW

13260192In Kirstie Alley’s newest memoir, The Art of Men (I Prefer Mine al Dente), she fills the reader in on her relationships with the men in her life, and sets each of these stories within the context of her life growing up, as well as during her journey as an actress.

She fills us in on her first love, as well as the “crushes” she had along the way. Her friendships with men, as distinguished from her lovers, sometimes bordered on more, but for various reasons, did not morph into lover mode. Like her relationship with John Travolta. At some point, the two of them decided that their friendship was more important than taking the relationship further. As a result, they have been good friends for many years.

To sum up some of Ms. Alley’s “rules” for love, she tells us about the lines she won’t cross and how that has worked out for her.

She doesn’t spend much time talking about her famously notorious weight battles, but her frank and sometimes bawdy “voice” in this book is a reminder of her very human side, as well as her comic genius.

The book was entertaining and felt like a conversation between friends. I didn’t learn a lot that I hadn’t already read about, but I liked what I did learn. I give this one four stars.

THE SAD JOURNEY OF AN “INCONVENIENT” WOMAN — A REVIEW

The story begins with a narrator who is talking to an unknown person, probably a psychiatrist whom he keeps addressing as “you” or “Doc,” and these events appear to be occurring at some future point in time.

We then move to the events of August 5, 1962, when Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her sparsely decorated adobe home. She was lying face down, clutching a phone.

In the following pages, we discover that there are time discrepancies; there are concerns about the position of the body and the unlikelihood that someone taking an overdose would be clutching a phone. There is an empty glass that is there…and then not there. A mysterious red diary appears…and then disappears.

Deputy Coroner Ben Fitzgerald is the primary narrator who is frustrated by the apparent cover-up. He is determined to find the answers.

But will his life be at risk as he struggles to learn the truth? Who are the enemies? The Mafia or others unknown? What do the police and even his boss at the Coroner’s office have to hide, and why are they fighting his investigation? What lies and deceptions will trouble him in the days ahead?

From the recovered diary and mysterious tapes, our narrator eventually learns some of what transpired, but will it be too late? And how can he protect his young son?

The Empty Glass was a captivating mix of fact and fiction that left me with more questions than answers. Told in an unusual narrative style that jumped around from the present to the past and then ahead to the future, I had a hard time making sense of it at times. 3.5 stars.

A NOSTALGIC JOURNEY — REVIEW

Reading Carol Burnett’s memoir This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection felt like a walk down memory lane for me. I was around for those days when her show was a regular feature on TV. The hour-long presentations would not be on the network lineups these days.

But in her book, her self-deprecating humor came through on every page, from the simplest anecdote to her spin on her life and its moments. Short chapters and great photos made the story a quick yet fun read.

Not only does she describe some earlier childhood “defining moments,” like feeling a connection to Jimmy Stewart when she first saw him in the movies, to the actual meetings of the greats over the years, but she imbues the pages with her gratitude and reflections about the opportunities and successes she enjoyed.

The people she met and knew came to life just as the characters she portrayed in her variety shows resonated with those in her audiences.

One of the most vivid realizations that I took from this book was how magical the Golden Age of television once was, and how much everything has changed. Not that we don’t have a much bigger selection of shows to watch, with cable TV, etc., but the kinds of shows on the networks do not have that same magic to them. At least not in my opinion.

Near the end, Ms. Burnett shares personal stories and reflections, like her chin enhancement surgery, her divorce from Joe Hamilton, her new marriage…and finally, the sadness of the death of her oldest daughter Carrie.

Her story made me smile, laugh, and shed some tears. I won’t forget the story…or her. Five stars.

THE INTERIOR WORLD OF HOLLYWOOD STARS — A REVIEW

What happens to a popular sitcom star after the show is over? Georgie York is trying to make her own real-life love story come true, but being dumped by her husband Lance, and now being fodder for the paparazzi, is not what she had in mind.

When she tries to hide out in her best friend’s Malibu beachhouse, who should appear but the self-absorbed co-star of that now defunct sitcom. Running into Bram Shepard is the last thing she wants, and then stumbling upon him again in Las Vegas when she tries for a getaway a few days later, leads to some unexpected moments.

Like an elopement between the two of them, fueled by drinks someone drugged.

What happens next is sure to keep the reader turning pages, as the two of them try to turn what could have been a disaster into a public relations fix for their image problems.

A riotous and fun-filled romp had me guessing about what would happen next. Would the two of them fall in love for real, or would they sabotage each other for revenge? Will either of them find the self-acceptance to recreate their own lives? A predictable tale with some interesting twists and turns was delightfully surprising at times. Four stars for What I Did for Love: A Novel.

A SAD JOURNEY: A STAR’S POIGNANT TALE — A REVIEW

A twentieth century icon whose life remains fascinating and endlessly mysterious, even more than forty years after her death, Marilyn Monroe still grabs our attention as no other star of her time.

In Leaming’s portrait (published in 1998), I learned a lot that I hadn’t gleaned from any other tome about this captivating star. One thing remains true through all the books on the subject, however: Marilyn had a sad and lonely childhood; struggled in her adulthood; and died tragically, still chasing the demons that plagued her all the days of her life. Fearing abandonment and a repeat of all the other losses she suffered throughout her life, she often sabotaged herself and became the kind of person people would turn away from.

Needy, frightened, paranoid—these traits all could describe her. And in her effort to gain the love, the respect, and the attention of others, she often pushed away the very things she desired. She did, however, show a determination and a unique ability to capture her audiences, which kept her a valuable asset for the Hollywood system for a long time.

Unfortunately, she also trusted and depended on the wrong people, who seemingly basked in her dependency. Even her psychiatrist, at the end, played right into the abandonment drama she feared the most.

In this book I learned a lot about the whole industry/studio system and the drama that unfolded around stars like Marilyn. More than I wanted to know, actually. Sometimes these tedious and unending details took away from the star and her life. I did enjoy details about the people she met, the relationships, and her homes: always part of that elusive thing she sought.

This was the saddest story of Marilyn that I’ve read, and I applaud the author’s research and efforts. However, for the reasons I mentioned, I’m giving the story 3.5 stars.