Top critical review
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I Can See Why Barbara Walters is Mad. . .
on October 10, 2007
. . .but she shouldn't be. She is of that generation/mentality that appreciates the surface image more than the reality. Rosie has stripped the varnish off of Barbara and shown her for what she is: an amazingly accomplished, dynamic, conflicted, emotionally frightened, well-intentioned woman. I'm sure Barbara sees it as a slam, but I came away from the book like Barbara more than I ever have. At least I felt I understood her now.
And Rosie doesn't spare this kind of critical evaluation from herself. She admits her failings readily.
The book is full of candor, honesty--just what anyone would expect from Rosie, even her detractors.
But it could have been better. So much of it feels disjointed: pieces of blogs, bits of interviews, excerpts from a discarded draft of the same book--all rest uneasily next to anecdotes surrounding her time on "The View," the program that she made must-see television by her mere presence.
But the book lacks focus (and yes, I know that this can be attributed to Rosie's unconventional "style," but hear me out). While ostensibly about Rosie's adjustment to fame, very little of that journey is chronicled here. There are snippets, but not enough to fully convey what that meteroic rise has been like for her. The relationship to Barbara Walters is what comes through most compellingly. Each moment chronicled between Rosie and Barbara is a real "scene," and it made me wish she had focused the book exclusively on her year at "The View, rather than moving back and forth through time and intercutting with blog material, etc.
But perhaps that's asking for too disciplined a product from a mind that clearly relishes jumping from one bit to another. I do think, however, it would have made a better book. "The View" material is really the most compelling material in the book, and even vague descriptions of sexual abuse are all used to serve that material. But people like Joy Behar and even Elisabeth Hasselbeck get little face time in these pages. And what about Jahero, Rosie's cult-inducing video blog segements that corresponded with her "View" appearances? The book would have been richer and more directioned if she had focused on this tumultuous year alone. After all, 60% of the book is about "The View," (in one way or another), and the other 40% just doesn't seem to be enough space to say all that Rosie is trying/wanting to say about fame.
But, in the end, the book earns three stars for its honesty and for Rosie's sometimes poetic prose. She has the raw makings of a very good writer--which is saying a great deal more than one can say about other celebrity-penned books. The woman emerges as complex, exasperating, fascinating, heroic--and someone you would like to know.