Read Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann by Barbara Seaman Free Online
Book Title: Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann|
The author of the book: Barbara Seaman
ISBN 13: 9780688050108
Edition: William Morrow & Company
Date of issue: December 31st 1987
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.66 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 7.6
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This was not a proper biography; it was a collection of information and anecdotes about Jacqueline Susann, fabulous authoress of the literary classic Valley of the Dolls.
I read 352 pages (or about 77%) of this book, then tossed it on my bedroom floor amidst the piles of discarded shoes, dried-up mascara tubes, and empty prescription pill bottles and sort of forgot about it. I think she's on her way back to the library, though I might still cave and read all the way through to her untimely death. But in a way I have to figure, why bother? This book was already tragic enough.
Tragic how, you ask?
Tragic, I explain, in that Barbara Seaman managed to write a wearyingly competent, passable book about the life of a desperate, needy, success-hungry woman who was in love with her philandering portrait-painter father, who slept compulsively with every Jewish comedian she could find, who had a severely autistic son at a time when autism was blamed on poor mothering and then packed him off to an out-of-state institution while lying about his condition to virtually everyone she knew; a woman of high tacky glamor and passion and addictions, who would bring her pet poodle along into her gynecologist's examination room and did things like get drunk and make out with Ethel Merman on a sofa at a crowded party; a woman who used her pink typewriter to bang out and then promote the hell out of a rank, pulpy heap of garbage that was (according to this book) crushed and compacted and vivisected into one of the hugest selling novels of all time.
This book contained a few incomparable moments, such as the following, about Judy Garland's behavior on the set of Valley of the Dolls:
The comeback, however, was not to be. True to form, Judy arrived late, muffed scenes, held up production for days while she sulked in her trailer. (Jackie picked up a pill she found in Judy's closet, tasted it, and noted it was Demerol.) The part went to Susan Hayward, with Patty Duke playing Neely
O'Hara and the beautiful Sharon Tate as Jennifer" (p. 343).
That's great stuff there! THAT is what we are looking for (aren't we??) when we pick up a promisingly hefty biography of Jacqueline Susan.
Unfortunately, most of what we get tends to be more like this gem about Susann's husband Irving:
He had produced Polly Bergen’s NBC show for a few months in early 1958, an experience she would recall fondly. “I don’t remember him doing a bad job and I don’t remember him doing a good job. I remember him as a nice man.” By late 1959, he was producing Dick Clark's The World of Talent in New York and Take a Good Look starring Ernie Kovacs, Edie Adams, and Cesar Romero in L.A. (243).
Wha-? Yeah, most of this book is just like that. Flat, boring recollections of people and events that often weren't interesting at all to begin with -- or, far worse, things that were doubtless luridly fascinating, but sound like a real pedestrian snooze the way Seaman describes them. This book took a figure whom I initially found enthralling as hell and convinced me that she was actually a very boring person, which is, IMHO, precisely the opposite of what a biography is supposed to do. If you learn while researching someone's life that she is way more boring than she seems, you have an ethical responsibility to shelve that book and find yourself a new subject, unless, of course, you possess such sparkling prose style that you are sure to bring the dead back to life in an attitude far more exhilarating than they ever were seen in their heyday on earth....
To be fair, I read this on the heels of The Power Broker, an admittedly tough biographical act to follow. Still, I firmly believe that Jacqueline Susann's life could have been related in a dynamic and intriguing way, and for me this was mostly just a litany of stale minutiae and fifty-year-old small-time show biz gossip, which made up a horrifically uninspiring portrait of a shallow, dumb, obnoxious lady who just really wanted to be famous and loved, and not in a particularly compelling way or for interesting reasons.
So yeah, I know Caro's busy with LBJ and is unlikely to have time for a new JS effort, but I think maybe someone else should try. Okay, honestly this book wasn't terrible, but I truly didn't feel it was all that Jacqueline Susann deserves. Jackie shone through the bland recitation of facts here because she was such an insane character; her personality came across in spite of the writing, not because of it. Maybe I'm spoiled by the more recent, pomoier biographies that take things apart way more to tinker with; this might have been part of what was missing here. This book was written in 1987, and it seemed like a sort of tepid, milquetoasty mix between sensational showbiz tabloid and limp "herstory" attempt. So yeah, for the new JS (how much do I love her initials?!) I think the author needs to be in the picture more, and must do far more active and aggressive thinking about what it is that Jacqueline Susann meant and still means today. As it is, Valley of the Dolls contains, in my opinion, a much more bold and illuminating feminist analysis than Lovely Me, which is.... well, not a little sad.
I'm personally convinced that Jacqueline Susann matters, but this book made her seem fairly irrelevant. Still, there was some interesting stuff in here, and the part on her childhood and adolescence was pretty decent. But I just never did get a sense of that immense and brain-pounding cocktail of fascination, obsession, adoration, and horror I've come to expect from all good biographers.
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Read information about the authorOne of the most tireless health advocates, Barbara Seaman (1935-2008) was co-founder of the National Women's Health Network, and a pioneer in a new style of health reporting that focused on patient rights. Her groundbreaking investigative book, The Doctors' Case Against the Pill (1969), prompted Senate hearings in 1970 that led to a warning label on oral contraceptives and the drastic lowering of estrogen doses due to dangerous health effects. Well received by a mass audience, Seaman was a columnist and contributing editor at Bride's Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle, and Ms. Magazine. She also contributed to the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, and others.
* The Doctor's Case Against the Pill (1969)
* Free and Female (1972)
* Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones (1977)(with Gideon Seaman, M.D.)
* Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann (1987)
* The Greatest Experiment ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth (2003)
* For Women Only: Your Guide to Health Empowerment with Gary Null (2000).
Contributor to many books, including:
* Career and Motherhood (1979)
* Rooms with No View (1974)
* Women and Men (1975)
* Seizing our Bodies (1978)
Contributor to several plays and documentaries, including:
* I am a Woman (1972)
* Taking Our Bodies Back (1974)
* The American Experience Presents the Pill (2003)
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