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The Other Side of Me Hardcover – November 8, 2005
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About the Author
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; First Edition (November 8, 2005)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0446532673
- ISBN-13 : 978-0446532679
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.25 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #88,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Sheldon is a man who won the Academy Award for screenwriting in the 1940s, for "The Bachelor & The Bobbysoxer." Since that time, his career has been, yes, stellar.
Thus, his memoir reads like a history of Hollywood, peppered as it is with anecdotes about people like Cary Grant, Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas and several dozen equally-famous names. For anyone with a curiosity about the early days of motion pictures, this book will be a primer.
Sheldon also is frank about his failures, which seem--even after decades have passed--to rankle him more than his successes delight him. These successes include Broadway shows, hit television series ("I Dream of Genie," "Hart to Hart") and best-selling novels.
He is equally honest about his battle with manic depression, and generous with his thanks to those who helped him during his dark days.
Clearly, Mr. Sheldon is an interesting and accomplished man. More significantly, it reads as if he is a genuinely nice person, talking openly and with great affection about both his wives, the loves of his life. (In Beverly Hills, a town rife with divorce, his first marriage ended when his beloved wife died.)
He also writes movingly about the death of their baby, as well as his pleasure in his surviving daughter and her children.
Sidney Sheldon has led a fascinating life and this book makes for wonderful--and touching--reading.
Pieces from its kaleidoscope continued tumbling through my mind as an imaginary spotlight spilled over the last word.
What. A. Life.
Okay. I see why it took Sidney 52 years (if I've correctly interpreted the dates given) to get to the novelist stage of his career. He was born in 1917; in 1970 THE NAKED FACE was published. His life was the preface, the prologue, the footnote, the foundation, and building blocks. He spent 52 years revving his engines with Dr. Judd on hold. But, wow, can Sidney dance the chronological gas pedal! What he gave us during his time travels to the "ta da!" career phase launching in 1970 is no less than phenomenal.
Sidney's long and varied career is highlighted beautifully in THE OTHER SIDE OF ME, his memoirs released November 8, 2005.
That is SO much a must get; must read, for those of us who love to labyrinth into worlds of fiction. Yet, this isn't fiction; it's Sidney's life, which reads with the same page turning urgency as his novels do. In fact, the first 4 chapters were, in some ways, more riveting than his novels. And, that's saying something.
I read the first few chapters of these memoirs while browsing in a couple bookstores in Grand Junction, CO, HASTINGS and BARNES & NOBLE, on 12/12/05. Feeling similarly to a reviewer of that book, after reading a few chapters of Sidney's memoirs, I was tempted to temporarily halt a book I had been enjoying immensely, to continue reading THE OTHER SIDE OF ME. It wasn't easy to temporarily put aside Sidney's memoirs, and decide to wait and order it from Amazon (12/17/05).
Along with Sheldon's career, his memoirs expose richness of his personal history, how it molded the phenomenon he has become.
After reading only the first 4 chapters, I received an "ah ha!" for the source of Sidney's kaleidoscope writing style. I began to see why in many of his novels the first 5 chapters launch from various global points, or from different life pursuits, with each chapter initiating characters who seem to have nothing to do with those in the other opening chapters.
In understanding how his life set up his style as a novelist, I also understand how THE OTHER SIDE OF ME, in essence, explains its first chapter's Hamlet choice to Otto, Sidney's father, who ingeniously convinced 17 year old Sidney not to add the sleeping pills to the whiskey he had consumed in preparation for them. I believe that Sidney has gently and subtly woven the answer to the first thread-rich chapter into the remainder of the book, tying the difficult designs of his childhood into the directions of his ultimate success, patterning the devastations of riding a patchwork psyche designed from those early chaotic years, boomeranging repeatedly from poverty to riches and back.
It might seem strange that I would say that these memoirs seem to be Sidney's answer to his father, to the WHY asked in the first chapter, strange since Sidney's father is not alive at this time to read this potent book. It's my belief that most of us communicate, in our own ways, with loved ones who have died, so maybe it's not so strange that, to me, this book feels like an attempt to finally and fully answer why Sidney would choose death at 17, then choose life every day after that; and to expose how Otto, Sidney's father, acted as such a positive force, by direct encouragement as well as by reverse example, in his son's life ultimately arriving at his being a globally successful, best-selling novelist.
A review noted that these memoirs delve more into Sidney's show biz career than into his life as a novelist. It was helpful to know that, when I was deciding to buy the book, and prior to reading it, since I was interested mostly in exploring Sheldon's thoughts and background around his novels. I had decided to read between the colorful lines, seeking silver threads exposing his reasons for featuring the vignettes of kaleidoscope pieces he chose to share. Those multicolored, multifaceted tumbles answered the main questions I had about how Sidney's life drove his multi-fronted successes.
His "king-sized failures" were easily as intriguing as his gold-medal wins. (In some ways he deserves a Purple Heart.)
Sidney seems to me to be two distinctly different people. The second wife and enhanced career launching in his 50's clearly seemed like a re-born Sheldon era in which his nemesis-type fear of confrontation and causing offense were sloughed off like a chrysalis. In that emergence Sheldon seems to have been able to alter his writing style and mood to encompass the rich, dark, complexity permeating his novels, which was not present in his stage, screen, & TV plays. Luckily for his readers, the uplifting optimism in the first Sheldon era is still to be had within the ebony depths of his addicting novels.
-- His description was key, of the differences between play/screen/TV Screen writing and novel writing.
- The freedom of creation of a novelist, which he highlights, is key.
- The basically solitary rather than immensely social process is key.
As Sidney has exposed succinctly, and as every novelist knows, becoming willingly possessed by an obsessive/compulsive, fictional character who wants to write his own story and live it, is the confirmation of a born novelist, which Sidney clearly is.
Sheldon's life leading up to its conclusions and culminations was presented with a fast paced, fascinating reading push which kept me wide-eyed and repeating, "Oh, so THAT'S what living the roller-coaster of history from 1934 to the present was like; it was the living, breathing, working through the McLuhan-esque era of birthing and growing the media from Novels, to Broadway, to Hollywood, to TV, to novels.
This is not only the best memoir I've every read; it's the best Visceral History (my term) I've ever read. Reading it was like sitting through a fast-forward movie which was so enthrallingly entertaining I didn't want to blink. Throughout the read my focus was primed. Whew. I'm STILL scrunching eyebrows with kaleidoscope pieces flickering through my mind, attempting to see patterns, pausing the flow to draw conclusions I might use in my own life. In understanding the whys and how's of the big "L's." And the larger-than-life "S's."
Amazingly, in addition to generously providing living-history page-turning, Sidney silvered in a few intriguingly useful tidbits for health-issue-resolution. From my personal experiences, I question only one of these (I do believe the spinal-disk healing process described).
I love the way Sheldon dealt with the sudden changes of his elevator directions, loved the way he repeated words and phrases he had been given or had concluded on his own throughout his life, some of which were curses over which he triumphed, others blessings which he used beautifully as talismans, mantras, and affirmations, well before those types of accouterments had been commercialized into the pseudo-pop pulp.
Look for the italic print, in which prior text or experience is repeated to highlight Sidney's pre-fame, struggle-surged history into his later penthouse pinnacles.
Sheldon didn't catapult to the moon in a silver spoon; he crawled (prior-to-Prozac), sometimes on the bloody hands and knees of a battered and boomeranged psyche.
What struck me most in Sidney's sagas prior to 1970 (when THE NAKED FACE, his first novel, was published), was that he was such a genuinely gracious, generous, NICE person who worked so beautifully in teams with literally anyone (and almost everyone who was anyone), from the best of quick, easy synergisms, to the worst of grabbing, grating gargantuan egos. In that sense, Sheldon't(s) fear of confrontation brought on by determination to avoid carrying forward his father's nemeses, served as a valuable, vital asset, until Sidney came into his own with MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT, and was finally free to breathe more easily ... and to tell the devils in the world to go to the Hells they had designed and implemented.
Yea!! And, Va, Va, Voooommm!
Sidney had arrived at his self-made heaven. Boy, did he earn it. Whew.
This book answered, with panache, every question I was aware of having about the driving foundation of Sidney's career success, and a few questions of which I wasn't aware.
Maybe, "THANK YOU" is all there is to say and all there should be,
Linda G. Shelnutt
P.S. Except ... anything else Sidney happens to want to write about his life would get a "Yes" from me, accompanied by coins on a counter top (more like clicks into an Amazon shopping cart).