I’ve been quiet on here lately! So sorry about that. I HAVE been reading though, but rather unfortunately, that pesky full-time job has gotten in the way lately and been a little too consuming of my time for writing anything here. I’ve also been working from home for the past year and a half. Therefore, my work environment has invaded (infected?) my home environment, and the thought of continuing to sit at the same computer in the same space as I’ve just spent a full work day in hasn’t been anything I’ve desired to do, so any writing of reviews has definitely suffered.
But, I am happy to say audiobooks have made a resurgence in my reading life. Obviously since working from home it eliminated any commute, therefore I wasn’t listening to audiobooks in the beginning. In November 2020 however, I hit a milestone birthday and became determined to lose the extra pounds I allowed to pile on my body over the past decade. I started walking every single day, so audiobooks have became my constant companions. I was finding it hard to focus on fiction novels in audio and needed something lighter but something too that would make me want to keep walking. Celebrity memoirs came to the rescue!
I’ve read about four recently that I will talk about here. It will likely be more of a contrast and compare post because there were a number of similarities in topics in each of these memoirs.
Which ones have I listened to/ read in paper format recently?
I started my walking travels by listening to Val Kilmer’s I’m Your Huckleberry, followed by Jann Arden’s If I Knew Then (Finding wisdom in failure and power in aging) and switching to paper format, Brat: an ’80s story and I’ve just recently finished with Demi Moore’s incredibly engrossing Inside Out in audio. That one left me with a bit of a memoir hangover due to how fully Demi Moore opens up her life to us. I’ve had to take a break from the celebrity memoir following hers because it is one I haven’t stopped thinking about.
Truly, I haven’t stopped thinking about any of these memoirs, but it is for certain Demi’s that has left an indelible mark. If you can, I highly recommend the audio for Inside Out. Demi reads it with such raw emotion, certainly the Prologue had me stopping and remarking with a “Wow!”, you could just hear pain and bitterness and emotion in her voice.
The second one I will absolutely say to listen to is Jann Arden’s. It is always a treat to listen to Jann anyway, but her reading this absolutely awesome book and with her signature humour is definitely a plus. This will also be the most empowering book you’ll read this year! She, like Demi, also does a deep and meaningful dive into her life. But it is her empowering message to embrace yourself fully – your body, your past, your faults, your future, your full life, etc – with absolute unconditional love because it is all of these things that has made you who you are. Her message is an inspiration and she of course tells it with humour and it’s absolutely amazing. I loved it, I loved every minute of it.
It was these two women that did it for me! They offered themselves up fully and completely and held nothing back. In comparison, while completely enjoyable and interesting, I was left thinking that Kilmer and McCarthy could have gone deeper in their memoirs. I was left with the overall impression that we only got a very surface offering from Kilmer, and McCarthy does much the same. There were so many questions I was left with after finishing Val Kilmer’s book – there are giant gaps in his telling of what life is like now, the time period leading up to 2015 when he first got a cancer diagnosis (which he hid(and why?) and what that diagnosis meant to him, and the loss of his voice! What did that feel like, mean to you?!?! All of those things! So many things, so many questions.
His book is narrated (frustratingly) by three people. Why three? Mare Winningham is the sole female narrator, his first girlfriend, and I truly wished she had read the whole book – she was the one to read it with depth and emotion ( for instance, there was one part where she is reading about the death of his younger brother that was so emotional and beautiful) – to me because she knew him best. I don’t know who the two men are to him, or why there had to be two different men narrating instead of just one? But Val has his poetry sprinkled throughout and these men butchered it – so much so I had to grab the paper copy to better visualize his poems. So in truth, I listened to half the book, and read the other half. Which was fine because I was then able to see the many pictures included. He writes in a stream of consciousness style so audio is definitely easier to follow, but it was too frustrating when it would switch between the two male narrators.
Fathers / (Mothers)
Relationships with fathers, and in particular fractured and difficult relationships with fathers is present in all of their books. While Demi has more to say concerning her mother (can’t even begin to detail that one!), it is their fathers that dominate many pages in each of these memoirs, especially Kilmer’s, McCarthy’s and Arden’s. It was highly interesting to hear and see how much of each of their books were devoted to discussion of their fathers – the messy, complex, complicated relationships they each had was a major focus.
Faith and Spirituality
Religion, faith and spirituality also influence many of the pages in their books. Most notably Val Kilmer’s. He is a devout Christian Scientist and speaks often about his devotion to his faith within I’m Your Huckleberry. As SuperWendy on Goodreads says, it was kind of refreshing to hear in a Hollywood memoir about his spirituality. Jann Arden, while saying she is not committed to any one religion, does say she is in a constant state of prayer each day. Many of her songs invoke God and it was very interesting to hear her talk so openly about prayer and what it means to her. Demi Moore has spent a lifetime searching for spirituality and religion and found it in many forms, firstly following her time in rehab and finalizing with her devout practice in Kabbalah.
Of course three of these books are Hollywood memoirs, and it was pretty great to hear their different points of view when discussing the same movies or the same actors where all three of them might have shared experiences – either times they would star in the same movies (Moore and McCarthy), work with the same directors (all three) and sometimes relationships – loosely on that part though. Hands down the best reading for any of this is found in Demi Moore’s book. Hands down. She goes into great and eloquent detail about the movie itself, the part she plays, the directors, the vibe on the set, the other actors, where she was at mentally, physically and emotionally and how the critics and the public received each movie. She even details where the movies sit within popular culture. If there were reports about Demi being difficult or a diva, she addressed everything head on. It was excellent. In turn, McCarthy only continued to reiterate he struggled to form any connection or relationship with anyone on set. And that was said for every movie he was in. Almost to the point where it became a whine, or said in a complaining voice. He would also only peripherally speak about things like how “dark” it was filming Less Than Zero, but never provided any real and full detail on the how and the why he felt that way. And then there is Val Kilmer, who is very well known for being notoriously difficult on set, with director Joel Schumacher calling him “psychotic“. He never owns it though, doesn’t discuss reasons for his behaviour – how it might be perceived as good or bad, or why he even came to behave the way he does. It might have made for great reading, but again I felt like we only ever got a very surface-level story with Kilmer.
However, all do discuss how they came to their craft, how they honed it, etc. and that did make for very good reading.
Anyway, I’m almost half-way to my weight loss goal and I have these memoirs to thank for helping me work towards that goal. I’m taking a wee break at this time but hope to be able to read Jessica Simpson’s memoir (supposed to be loaded with juicy bits), Michael J. Fox’s latest and I do want to listen to Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights because he reads it. I have a feeling I may struggle a touch with his however because I’m pretty certain our political views are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but I am interested in hearing what he has to say.
Do you have any celebrity memoirs you might suggest to me as I continue walking the pounds off?