- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Kensington; First Edition edition (October 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0758202229
- ISBN-13: 978-0758202222
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,440,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My Lush Life Hardcover – October 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Hollywood siren Tallulah Morehead spills the beans and many a tumbler of alcoholic libations in her raunchy "autobiography." Comedy writer and first-time novelist McEwan casts himself as a character in this spoof of the celebrity tell-all-he's the starstruck ghostwriter dutifully taking notes as Tallulah, aged 103, shares her memories of the licentious, alcohol-soaked golden age of Hollywood. Was she really Kaiser Wilhelm's love slave? Is she a lesbian? ("I like men as much as the next guy.") How many husbands did she have? (Even she's not sure.) Was she really the model for Gloria Swanson's role in Sunset Boulevard? And why did Morehead marry so many homosexuals? The boozy, oversexed goddess sets the record straight to the best of her hazy recollection, describing her childhood as a vaudeville sensation ("Baby Tallulah, the World's Youngest Bar-tender") and her madcap ascent to stardom as a silent screen diva. Her colorful descriptions of venerable Hollywood partying are filled with less than subtle double entendre ("Louie B. Thalberg was wasting no time in plucking me from obscurity; indeed, the very afternoon we met... we went up to his room so I could read some scenes, and Louie pretty much plucked my brains out") and in-jokes about both contemporary and old-time celebrities. You can see some of the punch lines coming from miles away, but this audacious and over-the-top sendup is still great fun for Hollywood junkies.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Live longer, babe.
There's a lot of mention in reviews of this book (and in the afterword) of it's similarities to Patrick Denis' "Little Me". This ham-handed, ulimately tedious mock-bio of self-centered boozy nympho Tallulah Morehead bears a resemblance to Dennis' hilarious mock-bio of self-centered boozy nympho Belle Poitrine only in the heroines self centeredness, booziness, and...well, do the math. While McEwan relies on cheesy, borscht-belt jokes that are repeated, and repeated, and repeated, Dennis relied upon the conceit that his mock bio was a dead on parody of the autobiographies of practically every star from the golden era. Not to say that I didn't get a few chuckles out of "My Lush Life", but they were few and far between. I mostly rolled my eyes and groaned. Since you can get "Little Me" in a reprint now, if you are in the market for a mock-bio about an immoral, talentless booze-bag who stumbles into stardom, well, "Little Me" is the Filet, and "My Lush Life" is the Happy Meal.
Is it funny? Yes. Is it worth reading? Probably not. Which is unfortunate cause the book has a tremendous amount of promise.
What strikes me are the two levels he has going on. Very charming and amusing on the surface and yet, just below, an almost existential, rather dark subtext. Certainly not an original observation on my part, but humor often comes from a very subconscious, sort of frightening place. Very Pirandello, often Sartre-like. What a trip.
And puns, what can one say about puns: McEwan writes like a chicken crossing the road -- poultry in motion. (forgive me father for I couldn't resist.) He has them in all 31 flavors, from the moaning jaw drop "I can't believe he thinks he can get away with this" to the "what did he just say?" my God, this guy's a clever SOB.
The Gone with the Wind screenplay takeoff is hilarious -- I hope he takes reasonable security precautions: there are GWTW fans out there still who could easily become your stalkers after they read your sendup. Miss Mitchell's barbell-disguised-as-a-book! Wonderful satire, perfectly puncturing the bloated, obsequious nonsense that seems to have grown, like mildew, around that piece of crap (movie and book IMO.)
Love the Vlad chapter, her appearance before the McCarthy committee and of course her encounter with Tennessee in the Laguna bar.
The last chapter is very touching and bittersweet -- not an easy feat for a book of humor. The filmography is a complete delight. I shall pay him the ultimate compliment and steal some of those titles.
All in all, an impressive achievement. I am reminded of what a funny guy McEwan is, a magnificent humorist and a really good writer. Satire is clearly NOT something that closes on Saturday night. Bravo.
The book, however, is brilliant. McEwan reminds me of Barry Humphries...but a Barry Humphries who has not yet caught on to his audience. McEwan's points are perhaps if anything more subtle than those presented by Dame Edna. Both like and unlike Dame Edna, McEwan exposes hypocrisy and prejudice with a wit and humor and intelligence that does not stop. To view his work as tailored for the gay population, which I suspect it almost always is, misses the point of this extraordinary writer entirely. He is addressing issues that deeply touch us all - alcoholism, depression, denial, superficiality, bias, abuse - and he does this in as creative a way as I have seen. I am most impressed with this first novel and sincerely hope that McEwan succeeds in finding a wide audience to benefit from what he has to contribute. I'm eagerly awaiting his next novel.
In this book, though, everybody works. No innocent by-reading allowed. Bring to the table your own knowledge of movies, gossip and history before parting these pages. You'll need it. The pace is fast, the jokes are frequent and, after reading the first few footnotes, your brow will furrow with disappointment when you see a page which DOESN'T have one.
MY LUSH LIFE is a vacation on paper....a cocktail napkin, to be specific. Once I started, there was no turning back and certain pages, due to their density of enjoyment from line-to-line, I read 2-3 times. All I can say is that if you don't "get it", don't get it but, to the other 4 billion or so of us who do, do.