Tuesday, May 14, 2024


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click 

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout. I've recently read the new-to-me Robert Goldsborough Nero Wolfe books and enjoyed them. I believe they stay close to the mood and style set by series creator Rex Stout, but to be sure, I'm re-reading one of the oldies. I chose this one because I remember nothing about it. Does that mean that I read this series more for the characters and ambience, or that this entry is not very good? Soon we'll see.

Rachel Bruner is a wealthy widow who channels the resources left her by her husband into political activism. She thinks her efforts to change the world have made her some important, well-connected enemies, and she wants someone independent to 1) confirm her suspicions and 2) if true, get them to cease and desist. Since there has never been anyone, ever, more independent than the famous Nero Wolfe, he seems an excellent choice.

2. What did you recently finish reading? My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand. At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you. Throughout her book, Streisand repeats that Goethe quote time and again. She believes it, and insists the universe has come through for her time and again. After reading her 900+ page autobiography, I don't agree. This woman runs like she has a motor inside of her. She's made her breaks and, to borrow from another uniquely American artist, she did it her way.

I cannot be objective about this book. This woman has meant so much to me for so long it's incalculable. She even showed up, like the cavalry, and performed here in concert when I was depressed after my mother died. Because I'm so invested in her, I was rattled when I disagreed with her. Example: I cannot stand her version of A Star Is Born and she blathers on and on about it as if it were one of her great movies (Funny Girl, The Way We Were, What's Up Doc?). I was amused/disappointed in her when she seemed so tin-eared. Example: She wrote about how intimidated she was when she attended her first Directors Guild of America affair and no one approached her. She summoned her courage/initiative and went up to Jack Nicholson and started a conversation. She asked if he preferred acting to directing, confessed she couldn't recall his response, but went on to say all he wanted to do was talk about himself. Um ... Babs? It's not good form to complain about someone being self focused in the middle of your 900+ page examination of yourself. It doesn't help that you can't remember what he said, anyway (because it wasn't about you?). GIRL, PLEASE! Didn't your editor suggest you cut this?

But she's never boring. Her need to be understood is touching and compelling. The way she's kept the same loved ones around her, every step of the way, is admirable. Her passion to do her best -- whether as artist or citizen -- is inspiring. I loved learning how some of my favorite movies and recordings came to be. The book's happy ending, complete with a second marriage, delighted me.

And there's this: she's still here to tell her own story. Garland was dead at 47. Whitney Houston was dead at 48. Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin were 27. Let's celebrate that Babs is 80. A survivor. My queen.

3. What will you read next? I don't know. But it looks like this year I may not reach my Goodreads goal of 35 books because I've devoted myself to two behemoths. Hollywood: The Oral History was over 750 pages and My Name Is Barbra is over 990 pages. While I appreciate both of them, they did exhaust me.