I rarely have time to pleasure read. I literally have books I’ve been working on for a year on my bed-side stand collecting dust. On top of that, I actually think I have undiagnosed literary narcolepsy, because every time I crack open a book, I’m guaranteed to be drooling on it 10 minutes later, dead to the world. Though, it doesn’t help that I typically find time to read around 10:30 at night.
However, I’ve recently made a conscious effort to change this. And apparently I’m an extremist, as I’m now concurrently reading three books:
Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen: I’ve heard fancy actor types talk about Ms. Hagan in near-Biblical tones. How she transformed them, and how this book is essentially their Bible. (Well, the First Testament, at least. It’s recommended you read her follow-up book, too). I find it fascinating to understand how actors work. I mean, if you see good acting, it seems effortless — the thought and investment that went into that characterization isn’t readily apparent to the audience, because they simply are that person. You know? Anyway, she gives some exercises in the book that, to me, seem vague and confusing. I think she suggests doing an acting scene with an ashtray? I dunno. You actors have it tough.
The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright by Jean Nathan: A few weeks ago, I got a text from my friend Jamie: “Oh my word, you *must* read this book. It’s like Grey Gardens meets Valley of the Dolls!” I’m only 30 pages in, but totally captivated. It’s a true story about model/actress turned author/photographer Dare Wright. I didn’t know who she was, either. Apparently she wrote some disturbing children’s book in the late ’50s about a doll that many remember from their childhood days. Including author Jean Nathan. Nathan tracks down the bedridden Ms. Wright through a series of bizarre connections, and basically discovers she’s a Little Edie-type who dresses like a doll and had a creepy co-dependent relationship with her emotionally manipulative mother. Awesome.
But Darling, I’m Your Auntie Mame!: The Amazing History of the World’s Favorite Madcap Aunt by R.T. Jordan: It’s no secret that the film Auntie Mame is one of my all-time favorites, as is its musical counterpart, Mame. Knowing this, Jamie (who simply knows me too well) slipped this book to me at brunch this past weekend (which she found at a book fair for $1), and I squeeled with joy. I’m nearly half-way through it. It essentially tracks the history of the original bestselling novel by Patrick Dennis to stage play to film to musical to musical film. What I love most is the author’s style. It’s very man-in-chair, with flowery prose milking every ounce of drama he can over things like a script re-write or a contract negotiation (apparently Rosalind Russell, who starred in the play and the film, was a real piece of work).
Perhaps I’ll report back on all three when I finish. If…I finish…