August 11, 2009

Here's the Story

I finished reading Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice by Maureen McCormick (Amazon has the hardcover marked down to a "bargain-priced" $8-something from $25-something, and doesn't that seem like that would be the kind of thing you wouldn't want to know if you were the author, even if you knew it happened to ALL hardcovers?), and I liked it.

Celebrity autobiographies must be very, very difficult to write, because of reader expectations. When I'm reading one, I want to be DISHED some DIRT. I want to hear about other celebrities. I want some behind-the-scenes stuff, and I want to hear some of the personal-life stuff the celebrity didn't talk about at the time it was happening. I want photos I haven't already seen in a magazine.

But! Too much dirt and I start feeling uncomfortable, or like the celebrity is so attention-hungry they'll say anything. Or I start thinking the other celebrities should have had an opportunity to respond to the startling accusations, and that no one should be revealing SOMEONE ELSE'S drug use, affairs, spending habits, etc., especially to enhance their OWN life story. And if I hear too much personal-life stuff, I start rolling my eyes and thinking, "Do you really think we CARE about that, just because we like your acting work?" And sometimes I come away from the whole thing feeling like I've gotten to know the celebrity better but wishing I hadn't.

I don't think I'd risk that impossible tightrope if I were them, and so I try to be merciful when reading. I think, "Remember, I ASKED for this" and "Well, at least there are TWO photo sections!" (There MUST be at least one photo section. If there are no photos, the book is crap. The end.) and "This is a CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY."

There is a part about halfway through the book where she Finds God (it's right around the time she gets interested in a Hot Religious Guy), and at first it seems as if the rest of the book will be like that. But it fizzles out, except for the occasional "blessed" or "humbled" or reference to how God gets the credit for keeping her slap-face marriage to Hot Religious Guy from falling apart (he felt he couldn't divorce her, seems to be the gist of it).

There are many long sections about the crazy feud she's having with her brother and father, and it made me feel a little uncomfortable because it seems kind of unfair that she gets to publish her side in a book. Not that I'd be all eager to give them their own chapter for rebuttal, if I were her, and it's hard to imagine a "their side" that would change anyone's sympathies.

Keeping all those things in mind, the Maureen McCormick autobiography falls into the Meets or Exceeds Expectations category. There were times when I thought, "I DID want to hear about this, but...perhaps not so many times?" (example: how hot she was for almost every guy she worked with, including the ones much older than her), or when I thought, "Being temporarily famous really does a number on people," or "Listen, I'm not sure that other celebrity's highly complimentary quote about you was, um, sincere"---but overall, I was pleased with the dirt/personal level, and I finished the book feeling more fond of Maureen McCormick than when I started reading.

Also, if I ever meet her, I will NOT say "Marcia Marcia Marcia!" to her. Not that I would have anyway. I would have been the sort who would have accidentally drawn embarrassing attention to our age difference by talking about how much I loved her when I was a little, little girl, and then would have made things worse by blurting how sad it was that I hadn't seen her in anything SINCE then, and then would have completed the triptych by saying sympathetically, "That show must be really embarrassing NOW, right? I mean, the plots! the acting! the singing! the hair-brushing! your PANTS! ...But it was the '70s, I guess. I was really too young to remember it."

10 comments:

Amanda said...

YES! Excellent and accurate review of the book.

Just Jiff said...

LOL. I actually want to read it now. But I am not going to buy it, so I'll see if the library has it. I'm too poor to buy books. Or maybe I'll join that paperback/hardback swap? I've got some to get rid of. :)

Anyway, I'm babbling. I'll go check it out now. :)

Mom et al said...

Does she say anything in there about how she feels if people come up to her, cup their hands to their faces and scream, "OH, MY NOSE!!!" That's the urge I'd be fighting.

I loved the Brady Bunch. Most of my adolescence was spent conquering any and all BB quizes my friends could muster. I'm glad you liked the book!

Kim said...

I agree with you on every aspect of what makes a good celebrity memoir. I recommend Story Telling by Tori Spelling (LOVE that!) for another enjoyable one with the right amount of dirt and a great picture section.
Surprisingly, I also think I'm going to get Merv Griffin's memoir. I was flipping through it at B & N the other day and had no idea he was gay. Some of the guys he claims to have "had relationships with" were shocking!

Astarte said...

I have a hard time reading memoirs, too, since a lot of the time they're so 'Me! Isn't it wonderful?! It's ME!' I've seen her on TV in Brady-retrospective interviews, and she seems semi-OK. The girl who played Cindy, though, seems like she's a little nuts.

Kelsey said...

I would probably do something stupid like ask her about when she was on Friends. Which, of course, she wasn't, but she and Christine Taylor are inextricably linked in my mind since those Brady Bunch movies...

Kathy said...

Okay, now I *have* to read it! Thanks, Swistle!

Anna said...

Have you read Greg's book? Also surprisingly good!

Jewels said...

Well I read the Duggar's book based on your bored/irritated review of it so I guess now it's time to pick up this one.

Shelly said...

Cool! I had been wanting to know how this book was! SO glad to hear your review.