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Life Itself! Paperback – July 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


“[Dundy] pulls no punches in revealing details of the unpleasant side of her marriage to Tynan.” -- San Francisco Chronicle

From the Publisher

From the celebrated author of The Dud Avocado

Elaine Dundy was born in New York in the 1920s and raised on Park Avenue. After the war, she decided the stage was her true home; she headed first to Paris and then London, where she met Kenneth Tynan and cabled home: “Have married Englishman. Letter follows.”Self–invented, divorced from their backgrounds “we looked on each other with absolute certainty that nobody quite like us had ever existed.”They had a daughter, and Elaine gave up acting, but although their marriage was intoxicating, it was far from easy. The successful publication in 1958 of her first novel finished off the marriage. But it was the opening of a new world of writers for Elaine Dundy, including friendships with Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, and Gore Vidal. She went on to write biographies, including the story of her friend Peter Finch (Finch, Bloody Finch), and then surprised everyone with a groundbreaking biography of Elvis Presley and his mother — Elvis and Gladys.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860495583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860495588
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,107,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Books McGulligan on September 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love Dud Avocado and the Old man and Me and Ms. Dundy's life was purely amazing based on the famous people she knew and befriended alone. There are many anecdotes that I want to remember and lessons too. Stay sober for one, keep working on art, don't give up and love well. There is an enormous, enormous sadness that she does not hesitate to share, she survived to share it with us and if we happen to have similar habits we understand a bit more about what is the right thing to do, in a sense this is a self-help book besides a phenomenal celebrity read. She was befriended by many brilliant artists from the mid-century. I am grateful I made the effort to acquire this book and read it.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Birkett on July 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
I came to this soon after reading "Breaking Clean" so it suffered by comparison. What makes an autobiography into a compelling story is very often the struggle against adversity. It's not Dundy's fault that she was born to inherited wealth but it takes away a vital ingredient. (She never tells us exactly how much money she had, which would have been interesting, although giving uncensored details of her sex life).
She did manage to create some adversity for herself to struggle against, by drinking and drugging and by marrying Kenneth Tynan. The story of the Tynan marriage is the centerpiece of the book. Of course Tynan's writing was a a theater critic and the work of even the greatest theater critic is necessarily ephemeral. He also achieved fame by his personality and was in that category of well-known for being well-known. Her own artistic achievements were three novels, one of which was a brilliant best-seller "The Dud Avocado" and two celebrity biographies (Peter Finch and Elvis Presley).
Aside from the Tynan marriage most of the rest is life-style-of-the-rich-and-famous stuff, with many anecdotes about celebrities she has known that are interesting (and some were very interesting to me) if you are already curious about some of these people. For example she was close to Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and was present at a meeting of Hemmingway and Tenessee Williams.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Johnson VINE VOICE on June 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books it is hard to put down, because the story is well written and her life was very interesting. I highly recommend this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By e kaiser on May 26, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's true. Elaine Dundy is hilarious, charming, witty, and this book is a complete delight. It will make you want to live lighter and funner and read everything she's ever written (The Dud Avocado is another gem).
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