Sunday, September 29, 2019

When women write memoirs (Ava and C.I.)

If you can't say something nice . . . don't say anything at all?

We've never practiced that -- we couldn't cover media if we were ruled by that bromide.

But Ty tells us about an e-mail that came up.  The e-mailer assumes Demi Moore has written a bad book because we haven't commented on it.

The book in question is entitled INSIDE OUT.  It was published last Tuesday.

  1. Today’s the day! is officially out. Available wherever books are sold.

Here, we have reviewed many female authors.  Not actresses, however.  When we started covering books by women, we were covering musicians.  We had already noted before that how few books there were about women musicians.  There are probably 80 books, at least, on Bruce Springsteen, the same for Bob Dylan, the same for Jim Morrison, the same for . . .

Men get books and books written about them.


Not so much.

Before the 90s, two female music pioneers had a books -- plural, more than two -- written about them: Janis Joplin and Diana Ross.  That was it for what's called 'the rock era.'  You can argue Barbra Streisand -- however, those books dealt with her movies and her celebrity.  THE SECOND BARBRA STREISAND ALBUM is a classic album -- find the book that ever managed to note that reality before William J. Mann's 2012 book HELLO GORGEOUS: BECOMING BARBRA STREISAND.

In the years since 1990, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell have been the subject of numerous books.

That's three more.  That's hardly enough.  We noted the shortage here and we noted that it was sexism, that women are not part of the canon because of gender, that their efforts are overlooked or dismissed.

So, after making that criticism for some time, when women began telling their own stories in larger numbers, we saw that as a good thing and we covered books for that reason.

We were happy to cover Ruth Pointer's "STILL SO EXCITED (Ava and C.I.)," and Ann and Nancy Wilson's  KICKING AND DREAMING ("Ann and Nancy Wilson share the true story (Ava and C.I.)").  We were less excited to cover Linda Ronstadt's memoir ["She sang so much, she wrote so little (Ava and C.I.)"].  And Carole King should have stuck to writing music because her book was a joke ["Carole King's Conditioned Role and Desire (Ava and C.I)"].  But even a really bad book -- see "Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins (Ava and C.I.)" -- at least brought the spotlight on women for a moment.   In fact, Judy's attacks on Joni Mitchell led us to review the sexist and factually challenged book about Joni Mitchell by the laughable David Yaffee [see "Put The Bitch In Her Place (Ava and C.I.)"].  Judy's lied about Joni forever but when Joni took ill, Judy really thought Joni was going to die and so she upped the level of her lies -- as a whisper campaign, of course, she always does it as a whisper campaign.  But in promoting his bad book, David started talking about what he didn't put in the book including Judy's lie -- only David's such a dumb ass that he didn't realize Judy was lying.

Are her lips moving?

She's lying.

We stopped sometime ago with those reviews.

We don't think things are perfect but there have been improvements.

In fact, Patti Smith just released her latest memoir last week, Debbie Harry releases her first this Tuesday, Carly Simon's second memoir (TOUCHED BY THE SUN) comes out this month as well.  This is great.  And Patti and Carly, with their previous memoirs, are best selling authors.  Many overly praised male musicians have released books in the last ten years and can't make the same claim.  Their books didn't sell.

But, again, we were never covering memoirs by actresses.

Actresses get more books -- many, many more -- than female musicians.  There are numerous books on actress Barbra Streisand, on Jane Fonda, on Carole Lombard, on Mae West, on Bette Davis, on Joan Crawford, on Judy Garland (as with Barbra, very few books on Judy have focused on her singing), on Doris Day (again, most books focus on the acting, not the singing), on Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe,  and on Cher (and grasp that it wasn't until Cher was making movies in the 80s that books about her began appearing -- her recording career has been covered in a great article in GOLDMINE but not so much in books), etc.

Contrast that with one of the most gifted and one of the most enduring female singers to this day: the late Cass Elliot.  There really is only one book devoted to Cass and it's an import -- a strong selling import but a UK book none the less -- Eddi Fiegel's DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.  That's really it.  Cass was a member of the 60s supergroup The Mamas and the Papas.  They had hits with "Monday, Monday," "California Dreamin'," "Dedicated To The One I Love," "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," "Look Through My Window," "Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)," "I Saw Her Again," "Words Of Love," "Creeque Alley" and "Safe In My Garden."  Solo, Cass' hits included "Make Your Own Kind Of Music," "California Earthquake," "It's Getting Better," "New World Coming" and "The Good Times Are Coming."  She lived an exciting life, she interacted with her peers, she should be the subject of a film.  But she's only got one book devoted to her.

This is a good time to mention the other Mama in the group, Michelle Phillips.  Michelle's tried for years to get a movie made about the band.  And in CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', she writes of Cass and the band and does so in a wonderful manner.  CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' remains one of the better memoirs written in the last fifty years about a musical act.  If you've never checked it out, make a point to search for it.

Back to Demi.

Demi has written a strong book as well.  We'd call it "unflinching."

We know Demi and like her.  Since an e-mail raised the issue of the book, we'll note that it's a gripping read and Demi is brutally honest.

About herself.

Ashton Kutcher seems to feel that he needs to respond.  Ashton, just sit your ass down.  Demi was very kind in her book to you.  She didn't name the two people that you had threesomes with.  She didn't describe them.  We all know who they are.  And if you feel the need to attack Demi, that could come out.  Demi's not going to be hurt by it coming out.  You will be.  Your career is already iffy at this point.  You've done enough damage so just sit your tired ass down and we can all pretend that you and Mila have a monogamous relationship and that you aren't sleeping with others.  Or try to embarrass Demi and we can have the honest conversation that you've never wanted to have.

Demi has nothing to be embarrassed about with regards to INSIDE OUT.  It's a strong book and a gripping read.  We highly recommend it.

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