Monday, January 30, 2012

Book it. Book it real good!

My Guy is always making fun of my love of biographies. This is all ha ha whatever, except ... I realized that most of my recent reads are, indeed, biographies. So, let's discuss.

The Garner Files by James Garner
I love me some James Garner. Maverick, or Rockford, or whatever else? Love it. And I loved this book. Jim - and yeah, I feel like I can call him Jim - is from Oklahoma, became an actor because he was sick of laying carpet, and doesn't give 2 shits what you think about him. Also? He did so much for actors' rights, and was known for being way nicer to the crew than he ever was to the "important" people. Just a nice guy.

My only qualm about this book was that Jim didn't read the audio book. However, he can't even drive anymore - he's arthritic because he did all his own stunts. James Garner = Bad Ass.

American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
by Karen Abbott
I didn't know much about Gypsy Rose Lee until I read this book. I've never even seen the musical Gypsy ... which, as a former theatre geek, is pretty shameful. But this book is really interesting. Gypsy and her sister, actress June Havoc, were raised in vaudeville as a baby act - like, "oh, look at the little kids singing and dancing!" Throw in the stage mother from hell, a series of shady stepfathers, and some financial instability, and you end up with 2 adult women who have trouble connecting with other people. And each other. And they have no idea how old they truly are because their mom was always lying about their ages to keep them semi-plausible as a baby act.

If you're feeling bad about your own mama, read this book. You will appreciate your mama for sure. This is also a great look at the old days of vaudeville - so interesting!

A Girl Named Zippy
and She Got Up Off The Couch by Haven Kimmel
Yes, Cyndi B., I did read these - thanks for the recommendation! You know all those memoirs about craptastic childhoods? A Girl Named Zippy is not that. It's about a happy childhood, where a girl felt shame for a kindergarten report card that said she talked too much and didn't follow directions. And then her parents said, "Good for you." And it was fine.

The second book focuses on Zippy's mom, who did, indeed, get off the couch. And go to college. And graduate school. And lost 100 pounds in the process. If you want to read about true bravery, this is the book.

This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl
by Paul Brannigan
Oh, don't you for a second believe that I wasn't first on the library's hold list for the new bio of My Celebrity Boyfriend Dave Grohl. I mean, I was sort of surprised that Dave didn't FedEx me a personalized copy, but I know he's busy. And besides - this isn't an officially authorized biography, even though the author had Dave's sort-of cooperation.

This book is interesting if you're interested in music. The author is clearly a music journalist, so the book traces Dave's journey from the D.C. punk scene to the L.A. punk scene to Seattle's grunge scene ... just lots of scenes. I learned some stuff. But I was annoyed about the lack of detail around some basic biographical stuff. Like, for me? Getting married was a big deal. And this book was sort of like, "Music music music ... by this time, Dave was engaged to this person not mentioned before ... music music music." So, it didn't give me a lot of stalking information. But it's also interesting to see how a musician who was basically told that he was kaput done reinvented himself and his art, and how he listened to his heart when it said he wasn't done creating.

If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't)
by Betty White
I would be unAmerican if I didn't love Betty White. And I do. This was an entertaining book of essays about just random stuff. It felt sort of like some literary agent gave Betty a list of topics and told her just to riff on them. It was a fun listen - the author narrates the audio book - but I couldn't really tell you anything I learned or anything that stuck with me. Just ... go Betty!

Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch
I'm sort of sick of Glee. But this was an interesting book. Jane's super honest about being an alcoholic, sort of messed in the head, and happily prone to the weird accidents that led to her most interesting castings. Like, she ran into Christopher Guest in a coffee shop, and he remembered her from a Frosted Flakes commercial, and that's how she ended up in Best in Show. That's cool.

I'm currently sitting next to My Guy, and pointed out that I've finished 7 biographies in the last few months. Our conversation went like this:

My Guy: You read a lot. I'm always surprised at how much you like biographies.

Me: Do you have a quote you'd like to add to the blog post? Like, your official stance on my biography reading?

My Guy: For as many biographies as she reads, her boobs are still quite nice.

Me: OK!

My Guy: Don't post that! Don't!

But see, that's what biographies are all about. Real life, friends. Real life.

Support my biography habit. Got any suggestions?

6 comments:

Cyndi B. said...

Biographies are just about all I read anymore. (that and books that were made into movies back in the 40's - yes, I am that weird) I find I enjoy history and real stories more than some of the, excuse me, crap that's out there as current literature. Thanks for the recommendations. (I've always thought James Garner was a hotty!)

Glad you read the Zippy books! I can re-read those over and over. Another "Ohio" book to read is The Prizewinner of Defiance, OH. Sad at times, but really, really good!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose was very interesting.
I need to read the Zippy books. You've convinced me.

Banjo @ Unfabulousness said...

I just read Monster. About Aileen Wuornos. Man, very interesting read.

Jayme said...

I liked "Just Kids" by Patti Smith. Interesting times with unique people.

Suzanne Moore said...

I love James Garner and his book too. I'm now reading it for the second time.

heavenisabookstore said...

One of my favorite biographies is actually from the nature/agriculture area called The Dirty Life and another I really enjoyed was The Bucolic Plague.