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A Shadow of a Biography
on August 10, 2002
If you've never read Barry's autobiography: "Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way To Paradise", that's the one you need to find and read. Ms. Butler's book, lacking Barry Manilow as a source (along with anyone who's been close to the man since 1980), comes across as a "shadow" of a book. It smacks of a college term paper that was required to be 20 pages when the writer only had enough material to fill 10 ... thus necessitating some "creative journalism" to fluff it out.
To the author's credit, she valiantly tries to fill in the holes where she can, relying almost exclusively on already-published information (thus making this a boring read for diehard fans) and anecdotes from people who knew Barry decades ago. Some of the stories as they relate to Barry's earlier years are mildly interesting, but any of value are few and far between.
The book is written fairly well until the twenty-fifth chapter, at which point the structure falls apart. It seems the author couldn't figure out a good way to wrap it up, so she stumbles onward with a chapter about psychotic fans and then, at the end, with a feeble attempt to answer the burning question: Why Barry, after more than three decades, continues to be scorned by the critics and the world at large? The burning answer? Well, we don't know, because the author never really answers it. I got to the end of this one and wondered why I had bothered.
I think some fans will like to own this because there are a few unique photographs, but beyond that it's a tedious read and, as biographies go, rather poorly written.