Confession: I don’t read enough. Worse, I don’t read well. I’m always anxious about getting to good sections or flipping past unnecessary text, and I lose the fun of reading, uh, for fun. That’s why I’ve come up with a quick summer reading list that I think the AfterElton demographic will love specifically. These five books have come out within the past year, they’re all well-reviewed, and they’re all as titllating and flavorful as an average Matt Bomer photo shoot. I say we give these tomes a whirl.
I’ve chosen non-fiction, entertainment biz selections only. We’re all still compulsively into that stuff, right? I sure am.
1. Diane Keaton, Then Again
Description: The Oscar-winning actress writes candidly about her inspiring mother, her self-consciousness, her harrowing battle with bulimia, and famous paramours including Woody Allen and Warren Beatty.
Why We Care: Among celebrities, Diane Keaton’s always been one of the more private stars, so it’s surprising to learn that she’s released a very revealing memoir — and that she has a very specific reason for doing so. Speaking of her mother’s own unfulfilled desire to write a memoir, Keaton says, “I wish she had. And, because she didn’t, I’ve written not my memoir but ours.” Sentimentality gives way to eye-popping personal recollections, including — wait for it — complete lists of foods she consumed and purged as a bulimic in the ’70s. Dinner, she says, would routinely include “a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, several orders of chips with blue cheese and ketchup, a couple of TV dinners, chocolate-covered almonds, a large bottle of 7Up, a pound of peanut brittle, M&Ms, mango juice, one Sara Lee pound cake, and three frozen banana-cream pies.” WHAT. HELP. S.O.S. Unbelievable. The book manages to be a compelling testatment to her mother and a great read for fanatics of celebrity culture. It’s as sensitive or star-studded as you want it to be. And bulimia-y.
2. The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael (edited by Sanford Schwartz)
Description: A collection of the legendary film reviewer’s smart, often incendiary critiques, writings and essays.
Why We Care: It’s been so long since I picked up an anthology I truly sat down and read. I have to be completely signed on to the author as a persona in order to care, you know? It can’t just be somebody talented; they’ve gotta be special. I bought a Dorothy Parker collection some years ago (“Time doth flit; oh, sh*t.”), and I find myself returning most often to her play reviews — gloriously scathing writeups that predate the work of the kickass Pauline Kael. Kael’s movie reviews are like scholarly, equally unpretentious expansions of Parker’s style, and I love seeing her exercise total literary control when writing about some of the best movies at the time of their release. Her Bonnie and Clyde essay is legendary, but I love, love, love her analysis of Julia, which is perhaps the Jane Fonda movie I stil think about most. Speaking of Fonda as playwright Lillian Hellman, Kael says, “Bette Davis in all her movies put together couldn’t have smoked this much — and Fonda gets away with it. It’s in character. She creates a driven, embattled woman — a woman overprepared to fight back.” YES.