In the most unorthodox show biz autobiography you'll read all year, the late Sandy Dennis (A Thousand Clowns
, Any Wednesday
, many others) reveals a real flair for poetic evocation of the bright and dark moments of her short, cat-filled life. Brought to unhappy endings with nearly all the humans in her life (including jazzman Gerry Mulligan), she takes solace in enough strong-personality kitties to make Andrew Lloyd Webber ponder a sequel. She refers to her film career not at all, and when she speaks of her stage career she never bothers to reveal a title, but remembers fond personal details, such as how warm and belonging she felt on one of her homey sets. Written mostly during her long, losing battle with ovarian cancer, the 77 pages of prose poems read like vivid, impressionistic dreams.
From Publishers Weekly
Lovely and unexpected, this little volume was found among the papers of Oscar- and Tony-winning actress Dennis (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) after her death in March 1992. Begun after she was diagnosed with cancer, the book differs radically from the usual celebrity memoir. It drops not a single famous name and makes no mention of Dennis's career in film and only one of her stage work. Rather, it presents lyrical, impressionistic memories of Dennis's childhood in Nebraska and of the details of her daily life on a farm in Connecticut with her mother, two dogs and 30 cats. Apart from the occasional amateurish touch, Dennis reveals herself as a gifted natural writer. An undercurrent of pain runs through the book, not only in the passages about her cancer but in oblique accounts of former lovers who were physically and emotionally violent and in passages recollecting adult troubles she witnessed as a child, including suicide. Her huge array of cats are portrayed with affection but with little sentimentality. This is not a polished or completed narrative, but a posthumous assemblage of sketches toward a memoir, a poignant reminder of what was lost when the author died at the age of 54. Photos. (Apr.) birthday. Portions of the book's sales will be donated to Delta Society, "people helping animals, animals helping people."
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