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By Myself and Then Some Paperback – Bargain Price, October 31, 2006
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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After the Hollywood years of Bogie, the Rat Pack and "humiliation" of Frank, Lauren aka Betty Bacall returns to her hometown, NYC, and she generously brings us along as she continues life as a single mother, meets, gets pregnant by (a big no no back then for a single woman) then marries Jason Robards, a charming, talented actor and terrible alcoholic. Interspersed are fascinating stories of friendships with the rich and famous--Adlai Stevenson, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, John Huston, Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Leonard Bernstein, to name a few.
This is a tough woman who married two alcoholics, raised three children largely on her own, fought her way to a successful career in films and finally on Broadway, and endured loss after loss--friends, family--and she was thisclose to her mother and her aunts and uncles. Her shock and profound grief at their deaths is gritty and real. She's upfront about other losses--roles she wanted, money she needed, the divorce from Jason Robards, boyfriends who moved on, even the prickly relationship with her only daughter, Leslie Bogart.
I revisited "By Myself and Then Some" shortly after Bacall's death. It took just a few pages for me to remember why I loved the original book so much! The addition--the "and Then Some"--has the tone, fast pace, humor and honesty of "By Myself." It is equally as interesting and answers many of the "whatever happened to him/her/that situation" introduced in "By Myself." Her memory when it comes to even the smallest details like the phone conversation when Sinatra shouted at and broke up with her, that last night with Bogie and how seeing his body dropped and rolled down the stairs led to nightmares for months afterwards, the trips abroad, the parties she and Bogie gave, how she dealt with his drinking and occasionally spiteful behavior are fascinating to read. You actually feel you're experiencing these things with her. Even her candor about her nerves is refreshing: I know when I'm nervous my hands shake terribly and Lauren Bacall wrote about the times her nerves got the best of her and how badly HER hands and even her head trembled. I admire her very, very much. If you haven't read "By Myself and Then Some" I encourage you to buy it. Yes, she was a movie star who mingled with the A-listers but the themes of her life--illnesses and deaths, anxiety and depression, problems with children, dishonest men, insecurities--are very relatable and it's those things that "make" the book!
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the movies and enjoys reading biographies and autobiographies.