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Sandy Dennis: A Personal Memoir Hardcover – April, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Papier-Mache Press; First Edition edition (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576010015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576010013
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,587,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sandy Dennis was a true original as an actress, and as a writer, she was just as distinguished. I drank this book down in one gulp, and when I was done, I felt brokenhearted that this delicate, wry, sensitive voice had been silenced so prematurely. There are a great many unanswered questions about Sandy Dennis' life that arise from this read, and I suppose we will never know the answers -- but what we do have here is a collection of intimate, impressionistic, exquisitely felt moments of a profoundly private lady's life and death. How I wish I had known her, and how I wish she had had the time to write more.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am thrilled to have had an opportunity to study with this wonderful woman, 6 years. Her Memoir is touching and elloquently said I could not put it down and had to read in private. I was very moved by her book and sad that the world lost her so suddenly. She was a giving and encouraging woman, all of her students LOVED HER. A gift so rare and so lovely. Ms. Dennis will live on in this Brilliant and touching book. I thank her for touching my life and encouraging me to be the artist I am. She is sadly missed.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "kvc90028" on June 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I knew Sandy Dennis. Not well and very briefly. Yet her death hit me hard. I'd always been surprised that no one had written a biography on her, as her life was tragically under-reported while she was alive. And as quirky and whimsical as she often appeared onstage and screen, a beautiful and fascinating woman lay beneath the greasepaint.
This slender book of memories (and "memoir" was never better used to describe a book) is just as engrossing and revealing as Joanne Woodward's Preface promises it to be. In no way a "show-biz" book, it offers instead insight and poignant confessions of an exceptional human being.
In my own book, which has yet to be published, I discuss my fleeting association with Sandy Dennis. But all one needs to know the person is to read this moving and surprisingly well-written memoir by the lady herself!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "kathrynlively" on November 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Published on what would have been Dennis's sixtieth birthday, A Personal Memoir is not what one would expect in era of "kiss-and-tell" tomes from the Hollywod elite. There are no tired lists of professional accolades or conquered lovers famous and infamous, no gossipy prattle. In fact, the particulars of Dennis's chosen profession are rarely mentioned at all in this 77-page memoir, we are instead introduced to Sandy Dennis the person--a person whose life was filled with colors, unbridled compassion and many, many cats.
In a scrapbook of prose--written, it appears, in fits and spurts when the muse allowed it--Dennis "recalls emotions...images" from her first trek at three years to the local store for jawbreakers to morning walks in the woods ("I like this kind of grey suspended morning. It will be, I think, a soft washed-out day"). Snippets of memory come alive in Dennis's vivid words--sticky baby fingers clutching a shaggy dog, fragrant New England foliage, fading images of a father seldom seen due to work and war. This Sandy Dennis, not necessarily the Sandy Dennis we see flickering in a grainy black-and-white film, is the one we are meant to remember.
On screen, Sandy Dennis was powerful, and that power transfers beautifully to her own life. A Personal Memoir is uniquely poetic, and a very thoughtful read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By chad edwards on November 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What a woman! Sandy Dennis has always been, in my mind, one of the most strikingly original and entertaining performers to ever grace the Hollywood screen. Watching her movies has given me a great deal of joy and happiness over the years, but until I read this book, I had no idea she had such an equally natural talent for writing. For those of you who buy this book expecting to read a conventional tell-all, you are in for a big surprise. Sandy's book, which she began to write not long after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, tells of this remarkable woman's courageous battle with the fatal disease. It also tells of her strong, warm relationship with her many cats , the furry friends that seldom left her side during that very difficult time. This is a book like no other. Every page is filled with love and compassion, laughter and heartache. It is a stunningly original and unforgettable work, much like the woman who wrote it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bobbie on April 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading about a girl from Lincoln that made it big. Sandy will never be forgotten and will be a big part of the history of the city.
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