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Terry McMillan: The Unauthorized Biography Paperback – December 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though fueled above all by her talent, McMillan's successAas is made clear in this life of the popular novelistAalso owes much to her strength of character. How fortunate, then, that the first bio of the author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back comes from a writer (of, among other books, several children's bios of African-Americans: Toni Morrison, Colin Powell, etc.) whose prose displays energy and personality equal to her subject. Patrick begins with a long, entertaining foreword that explains the genesis of this book, including her futile attempts to gain McMillan's cooperation. The novelist doesn't charm when the biographer finally meets her, but, Patrick points out, in any case "you have to give her props" for what she's accomplishedAand Patrick proceeds to do just that. Tracking McMillan from her childhood in Port Huron, Mich., through her early writing years in New York and subsequent fame and fortune, Patrick mixes facts about McMillan's life (both professional and personal), psychological insight into her subject and deep background on the places, times and people around her. Of particular note is Patrick's acute analysis of the changes McMillan has wrought in the publishing industry, dramatically expanding the opportunities for, and commercial expectations of, African-American writers. Unauthorized this book may be, but it suffers little from McMillan's boycott, as Patrick has interviewed many of those near to the novelist and provides perceptive readings of McMillan's writings, nimbly untangling the weave between her subject's life and work. Lively, opinionated and smartly informative, this bio should appeal not only to myriad McMillan fans but to anyone interested in a compelling presentation of a model modern American success story. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A freelance contributor to Publishers Weekly, Patrick has written a "breezy biography," said LJ's reviewer, of the African American author (Waiting To Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back). (LJ 8/99)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312267851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312267858
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,279,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Jarmon-Wade VINE VOICE on January 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was suprised to see this 231 page bio on Terry McMillan. It did not matter whether it was "authorized" or not. So I had to read it because I LOVE & RESPECT Terry McMillan's books and have read all of them.

The author of this book vents her frustrations of, in her opinion, having been dissed by T. McMillan. Ms. McMillan did not assist her in the research, or support this book at all. She quotes McMillan as saying, "I don't know why you people don't wait until I'm dead". This takes me back to my initial suprise of seeing that a bio had been written. I know what Terry McMillan's books and success has done for the African American readers and writers. She made history and opened the door for a lot of writers to follow her. YET...a bio already?

The early years were boring. I'm sure it could have been more interesting if Diane Patrick would have had actual input from Terry McMillan. Instead she relied on historical facts of the time and place; also input from outsiders that had crossed paths with T. McMillan.

The years after Terry left her hometown were more interesting. Her college education, employment history and skills are chronicled. Her time spent at the writer's colonies were discussed as well. Diane Patrick is a great researcher. She includes a wealth of history on other writers that she was able to link in with McMillan by any means necessary to make the book longer. She states that there are many black writers now and that there is room for all!

Page 230 contains her reason why this bio was worthy of being written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have been a huge fan of Terry McMillan's work for years now. She has not done a lot of interviews, so I was anxious to find out more about her. This book does not accomplish that at all.
Terry refused to cooperate with the author, and apparently told all of her friends, business assoicates and family to not talk either. Ms. Patrick apparently had no information to work with. She fills the space with long discords on various subjects such as Black literature, poverty, and the history of art. She goes on this long diatribes for pages with no mention of Terry McMillan at all. I applaude Terry for keeping her distance from this stinker.
Save your money to buy a real McMillan book-Terry or her sister and your time will not be wasted. Buy this book and you will have wasted $. Ms. Patrick, please do your research the next time you decide to write a book. Her intro said she had previously done juvenile biographies and was ready to graduate. I take that as an insult to children's literature. This type of bad writing is what's wrong with literature today-juvenile or adult.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on January 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Terry McMillan's name is immediately recognized in popular literature. Many fans and readers are curious about the life of this woman who created a new genre (urban romance) and opened the eyes of publishing companies that Black people do read books.
Unfortunately this "Unauthorized Biography" of the author falls very short in telling us about Ms McMillan's life and what developed her as an author.
What you get is a compilation of stories regarding Terry McMillan but nothing substantial about her life and art. In fact the vast majority of the book talks about the publishing industry, other Black authors, the latest gossip and other trite subjects that have nothing to do what so ever in dealing with the life of Terry McMillan. What is shared is information that has already been known. This biography doesn't tell us anything new. If only it would talk about Terry then it would hold your attention.
Most of Patrick's biographical information is from the books (Mamma, How Stella Got Her Grove Back,etc.) that she finds are autobiographical in nature to McMillan's life. Novels are not facts and Ms Patrick should have taken the time to do some full scale research. Her excuses about McMillan being uncooperative doesn't hold water if you are truly dedicated and serious about doing justice to a major author.
If you are looking for a definitive biography of McMillan leave this book on the shelf. If you want to be slightly entertained and not interested in the facts and development of this great writer by all means this is the book for you.
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Format: Hardcover
This biography of Terry McMillan is just as entertaining as her novels. As most fans know, McMillan's novels are somewhat autobiographical, but thanks to Diane Patrick's extensive research, we get to find out just how close fact and fiction were. It's also fascinating to read about the Terry McMillan-Alice Walker tiff that Patrick unfolds like a puzzle through McMillan's interviews and Walker's essay in ANYTHING WE LOVE CAN BE SAVED (in which Walker gave McMillan the pseudonym of Anna Caday). Although the book is an "unauthorized biography", it has the feel of Terry talking to the reader because of Patrick's extensive use of her wise and tart quotes from interviews and essays. Aside from honoring the talented McMillan with her first full-length bio, Patrick also captures the shifting changes in the publishing industry and spotlights those writers who won contracts and fans in McMillan's wake (such as Connie Briscoe, Bebe Moore Campbell and Benilde Little). Fans will enjoy learning more about their favorite author and as a bonus will end up learning more about the publishing industry. A sensational, fast read!
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