books, buster keaton, charlie chaplin, harpo marx

autobiography reviews

…Just what you wanted to see, I’m sure. Haha. I’ve definitely gotten back into reading for fun lately (by “lately” I mean the last year or so, and by “fun” I mean instead of schoolwork), but when I look at the books I’ve read since then I realize they were almost all autobiographies. What can I say – I love reading about people’s lives, haha. It’s like I said in some earlier post, regular researchy biographies bore me, but I am fascinated by almost any autobiography. I love the idea of someone telling you their own story. Without ever having met them, it’s the closest you can get to knowing the true person, through their memories and reflections.

Some of the autobiographies I read were rather silly and the result of my obsessions at the time (for example, I not only read Charlie Chaplin’s autobio but also those of his son and second wife, haha). I’ll spare you all the details and instead just pick a few to mention. So if you’re ever interested in reading about any of these people, here are some short reviews with little to no credibility:

Wonderful Tonight – Pattie Boyd. Haven’t you always wanted to hear about the infamous George-Eric-Pattie love triangle? …Ok if not, maybe you won’t want to read this book, haha. Nevertheless, it’s a great account of the swinging 60s and two of the greatest guitarists to ever live. Separate entry about this book here.

I’m A Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, & Madness – Micky Dolenz. This wasn’t so much an autobiography as a collection of memoirs and hilarious anecdotes (my favorite being when Mike punches the wall). There were some great stories about growing up in show biz and partying in the 60s. Short and simple, yet very entertaining.

John – Cynthia Lennon. As the title suggests, this is Cynthia’s account of her life with John Lennon. Not gonna lie, it’s a pretty depressing read. You can tell they loved each other in the beginning, but most of the book is just about how John was a bad father and how Cynthia obviously doesn’t like Yoko. It’ll make you dislike all three of them, haha.

My Autobiography – Charles Chaplin. This was a pretty dang long book, but I couldn’t put it down. It takes you from the streets of London to the high life in Hollywood to retirement in Switzerland and everywhere in between. It’s funny and almost unnatural that Charlie speaks so verbosely when you’re used to seeing his silent tramp character. Lots of cool stories about dinners with Einstein and Rachmaninoff, parties at the Hearst place, meeting Ghandi, etc. Really interesting!

My Wonderful World of Slapstick – Buster Keaton. Compared to Charlie Chaplin’s book, this one was much more colloquial and down-to-earth, which was nice. It was just as if Buster was your (supercool) grandpa telling you his story. It was very insightful, giving both honest and entertaining accounts of early Hollywood. It made me realize how much I love Buster Keaton as a person; he was so humble and never took his fame for granted.

Sunshine and Shadow – Mary Pickford. This was a nice read, but nothing too memorable. My favorite parts were when she talked about Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin and how they would “run around Pickfair like 10-year-olds”. Mary gives the impression of being kind of snooty, but also very aware of Hollywood life and the whole business side of it, which I definitely respect her for.

Harpo Speaks! – Harpo Marx. Autobiographies are a really good indication of one’s personality, and this book taught me that Harpo Marx was one of the sweetest, kindest, and funniest men to ever live. I didn’t know anything about him prior to reading this, but became a faithful fan thereafter. I even wrote a long entry about it here. Highly highly recommended!

On the to-read list: Bob Hope, Marion Davies, Lucille Ball (for a second time), and Bill Clinton. Oh yes.

This summer I’ve been reading books about New York (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Bonfire of the Vanities, Forever) to get more excited about my NY trip. It’s working! More reviews to come soon someday…

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