Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Then Again, by Diane Keaton

I know, I seem to be on a celebrity memoir kick lately... but, what are you gonna do?  It's too intriguing to peek a glimpse at the famously rich doing ordinary things.  I guess I'm a sucker for the preamble leading up to the "How'd it all happen?", to the "It's finally happened!" to the "What d'ya do now?" 

It's amazing to hear tales of the present tense.  The marquee faces, that seem so familiar, doing extraordinarily low-key things that the rest of the population can all too relate to.  Visiting hospitals and nursing loved ones back to health.  Schlepping kids from Point A to Point B.  Trying and failing, even after wealth.

Diane's story is no different.  Kooky family.  We all have one, right?  Insecurity.  Even while in throes of affairs with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino.  Every woman hears ya!  Fame that seems to come suddenly.  Career highs and lows.  A (somewhat surprising) eating disorder.  Family loss.  All the usual ingredients of an autobiographical celebrity tome.

Diane's a pretty good writer.  Her voice certainly chirps off of the page, as it does off of the big screen.  But, the unique twist to her story is that she decided to share it.  With her mother's.

Dorothy Hall (yep, her family the inspiration behind The Hall's of Annie Hall notoriety) was a frustrated artist herself.  Once, a beauty pageant queen, basking in the glow of having an audience's approval.  Then deciding to chuck it all in favor of raising her family.  She kept up with her hobbies of photography, collaging and writing throughout motherhood.  Only, her story, no one bothered to read until her passing.

The pages of Then Again, jump back and forth throughout time and between authors.  Switching between Diane's story and her mother's journal entries within each chapter, symbiotically.  As Diane tells us what it was like starring in her first Broadway play, Dorothy explains how much pride she felt in the audience.  As Diane nervously watches the premiere of the movie that will launch her to stardom and later climbs the stairs at the Academy Awards, reaching for her work's prize... Dorothy's account is right there with her.

This isn't a juicy book.  You won't find much dirt here.  But, what you'll find is a mother's love for and devotion to all of her children (even the "normal" ones), and a daughter's last respects. 

It's a sweet read.

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