Narrators: John Lithgow
Rating: 7 out of 10
Publisher: Harper Audio
Length: 10 hours, 17 minutes
Challenges: 2012 Audio Book Challenge
Synopsis (from the book’s description): In this riveting and surprising personal history, John Lithgow shares a backstage view of his own struggle, crisis, and discovery, revealing the early life and career that took place out of the public eye and before he became a nationally known star. Above all, Lithgow’s memoir is a tribute to his most important influence: his father, Arthur Lithgow, who, as an actor, director, producer, and great lover of Shakespeare, brought theater to John’s boyhood. Illuminating, funny, affecting, and thoroughly engrossing, Drama raises the curtain on the making of one of our most beloved actors.
Overall Impression: I’m always a little wary of celebrity memoirs. My dad agrees — he cannot fathom how young people like Justin Bieber or Snooki have enough material for a book (they probably don’t, actually). But John Lithgow has been around for a long time, and he has a large, respectable amount of good work under his belt. After listening to a wonderful interview with him on NPR, I decided it was worth it to give his memoir a shot.
Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. It was more than a memoir — it was a love letter to his father, who was also an actor and director. I thought framing the book around his father was particularly lovely. It infused the whole novel with this theme of love and mentoring and independence. Additionally, Lithgow is somehow both self-deprecating and recognizes his own pride at the same time. The anecdotes were well done, none of it felt drawn-out. And, of course, he’s funny.
Still, it didn’t wow me. It was just a nice, interesting memoir. While I enjoy attending the theater (this book mostly covers his time in the theater — most of his film and TV career isn’t part of the scope of the book), I don’t know all the inside stuff — actors, plays, etc. I felt like I was missing key knowledge to appreciate the book in its entirety. I also always feel a little uncomfortable when people air their dirty relationship laundry. I wonder how ex-spouses and ex-girlfriends feel, and I wonder how his children will feel when they read these things about their father.
Narration: It was narrated by Lithgow himself, and as a stage actor, he, of course, nailed it.
Positives: The parts about Lithgow’s relationship with his father were, by far, the best parts of his memoir for me. His reminisces were surprisingly heartfelt. The whole book, too, was infused with Lithgow’s trademark sense of humor.
Negatives: As I mentioned above, I felt like I was missing something, since my knowledge of New York theater is fairly spare.
Other books I’ve read or narrated by John Lithgow: none
Other blogger opinions:
BookSpin: “This memoir is full of fantastic anecdotes from an actor’s life. He artfully spins a tale of how he got to be the respected, beloved actor he is today.”
Misbehavin’ Librarian: “There better be a second book because I am very interested in his stories about his tv and film career.”
She is Too Fond of Books: “It is a wonderful book, whether you call it a memoir or a co-biography.”