Portia de Rossi has released a memoir titled, Unbearable Lightness. I saw the headline in Entertainment Weekly and thought, “Great. Another celebrity memoir.”
For many aspiring writers, who live beyond the TMZ, trying to publish a book — memoir, novel, how-to book — is a rigorous, difficult, looong process, and, not to begrudge anyone, but it can seem as though they hand out publishing contracts to celebrities the way they do swag bags. Trust me, I get it — celebrities have a built-in fan base, millions who follow their Twitter statuses, and there is, indeed, the strong likelihood that if someone watches their show or buys their CD that they will plunk down the cash for the book as well. It’s one of those reality pills that we “regular people” writers just have to swallow.
Knowing that, I was going to turn the page and go onto the next article (which, coincidentally, was a story about actor Michael Caine’s new memoir), but didn’t. Instead, I read the short review of de Rossi’s book and found myself nearly in tears. Unlike other celebrity memoirs, de Rossi’s book doesn’t seem like it’s out there through happenstance, or ego. It’s not out to titillate, but to educate. She tells of a life driven by stardom, of starving, binging and purging in brutally honest and specific ways. It’s not pretty, and perhaps it’s because I’m coming off working on Good Girls Don’t Get Fat with Dr. Robyn Silverman, but I hope that her book helps young girls who are going through similar situations. When a memoir is authentic and honest — celebrity-written or otherwise — it can be so powerful and relatable.
As I set down Entertainment Weekly and picked up People magazine — yes, we writers have a tough life — I came across a story on actor James Franco’s new collection of short stories titled, Palo Alto: Stories. Now, you would think I would be just as perturbed to hear the news of the release of this book. Truth be told, I wasn’t. At all. How can I feel slighted by a fellow who is studying English and film studies at Yale, juggles his film schedules around his schoolwork, and just seems to be a hard-working, grounded, cool, multifacted — and yes, good-looking — kinda guy?
No way. Call me shallow, but he had me at Ph.D.