RaveThe Washington PostDavis is more interested in framing her decorated career within the racism, generational abuse and sexual assault she overcame ... Pet lovers may have a tough time enduring detailed descriptions of cruelty to animals that Davis recalls witnessing ... With brutal candidness, she channels the unrelenting terror of living in a household of domestic abuse ... With fine brushstrokes, she paints a complicated portrait of a complicated man ... Although Davis isn’t shy about indicting the industry at large for its systemic biases, she’s more selective in sharing her thoughts about particular projects. When she does pull back the curtain, she digs deeper than behind-the-scenes dish or cute stories on set ... By the time Davis gets to her stay at George Clooney’s Italian villa, the cartoonishly lavish experience reads not as an out-of-touch fantasy but a well-earned respite for someone whose road to prosperity was paved with pitfalls ... While Finding Me can be docked for some loose ends, stilted prose and superfluous anecdotes, Davis’s journey overpowers those nitpicks.
PositiveThe Washington Post... enthralling and occasionally vexing ... Although Ten Steps to Nanette has the trappings of a memoir, as Gadsby embeds her memories with wit, reflection and self-deprecation, she eschews convention by meticulously framing her life through her defining work ... It’s when Ten Steps veers into more straightforward autobiographical territory that it loses steam. Much of the first half is dedicated to a year-by-year recollection of Gadsby’s youth that’s exhaustive and, at times, a tad exhausting ... she still packs her road to Nanette with too many detours and traverses them too leisurely ... That’s not to say the first half doesn’t provide insight ... In Ten Steps, she is understandably vague [about her trauma] but remarkably vulnerable ... For a memoir where pain is a through line...it shouldn’t surprise that Ten Steps, like Nanette, can be light on laughs. But they’re certainly there, especially in pithy footnotes that Gadsby wields to great effect.
RaveThe Washington Post... stirring ... Through his experience as a gay Black man, repeatedly subjected to unspeakable pain, Porter delivers a searing indictment of how America treats race, sexuality and anyone outside the norm. Clear and piercing, his justified indignation is as defined as his singular singing voice and flashy fashion ... With raw vulnerability, Porter opens up on how the effects of childhood abuse long prevented him from loving Black men romantically ... Porter’s recollections are vivid and his prose playful, packed with amusing colloquialisms and no shortage of sass ... Even if Porter’s sharpest barbs seem saved for the church and the GOP, he doesn’t hold back when confronting Broadway’s and Hollywood’s systemic shortcomings ... Porter is also refreshingly candid on the allure of fame and industry accolades ... Whether he’s reliving triumphs or trauma, Porter bears his soul — just as he did all those years ago on that high school stage, bloodied and bruised. When faced with such honest audacity, one can only applaud.
MixedThe Washington PostAs someone with firsthand experience in the perils of second installments, McCarthy, 58, might have reconsidered going back to the autobiographical well, which he already explored with the 2012 travelogue, The Longest Way Home. His follow-up, Brat: An ’80s Story, is a more marketable venture, packed with on-set insights and off-set indiscretions from a curious chapter of Hollywood history. Yet, by zeroing in on these formative years, McCarthy sells himself short ... How did the baby-faced star of Pretty in Pink,Less Than Zero and St. Elmo’s Fire become an editor at large of National Geographic Traveler and a go-to director on Orange Is the New Blac and The Blacklist? Beyond the occasional digression, Brat skips such introspection. There’s emotional honesty about the young man he was, but not about the Renaissance man he is now ... Readers instead settle for nebulous tales from McCarthy’s early stardom, though he is upfront about his memory’s fickleness...Whether these vague anecdotes are purposefully evasive or the inevitable product of a mind peering into the past, it’s clear that this is no all-encompassing account ... That’s not to say that McCarthy’s recollections lack intrigue. The actor effectively paints his younger self as a sheepish outsider, torn between ambition and art, stumbling his way through an industry that doesn’t hand out road maps. Say what you will about the creative caliber of McCarthy’s filmography, he exudes a sincere appreciation of his craft. As he muses on method acting and on-set politicking, one senses McCarthy’s comfort in the director’s chair — and wonders why the book doesn’t expand on that evolution ... When it comes to the Brat Pack films, McCarthy provides an entertaining-enough glimpse behind the curtain ... There’s a wistful tenor to McCarthy’s take on the Brat Pack, though the lack of rapport with his contemporaries leaves the book surprisingly short on its nominal topic ... Eventually, McCarthy dives into his 1992 detox and subsequent sobriety, fearlessly opening up on bottoming out. His eventual reconciliation with his ailing father, meanwhile, delivers bittersweet catharsis. It speaks to an inherent flaw in the memoir, however: that its most therapeutic moments occur after the ’80s part of a book subtitled \'An ’80s Story\' ... Your mileage may vary on this trip down memory lane, depending on your affinity for the Brat Pack oeuvre. But considering the richness of McCarthy’s subsequent career, his most compelling chapters may remain to be written.
MixedThe Washington Post... a simultaneously baffling and mesmerizing examination of Carrey’s psyche ... As a reimagining of the traditional Hollywood tell-all, Memoirs and Misinformation is a compelling curiosity. But the novel beyond the novelty is a bit of a mess. Seemingly central characters and story lines are unceremoniously abandoned, and the book’s absurdist approach eventually wears thin. Did we really need a drug trip in which Carrey imagines a razor-toothed Nancy Reagan devouring infants? With so much esoteric imagery, this fever dream of a novel runs hot and cold ... The book is at its best when Carrey grapples with his insecurities and anxieties. Ultimately, Memoirs and Misinformation is about how even larger-than-life figures are prone to feeling small. A bombastic, science fiction-fueled finale hammers home the Truman Show-esque idea of being undressed by the all-knowing public eye ... Carrey the author got ahead of the curve and wrote his own fictionalization. Yes, the result is undeniably chaotic and indulgent. But it’s unquestionably Carrey.
PositiveThe Washington Post... absorbing but uneven ... a zigzagging ride through Kilmer’s distinctive life and career, penned by a spiritual storyteller with no qualms about indulging in his eccentricities ... Kilmer’s tone is raw and reflective as he weaves poems into his expressive prose. (He is a literary obsessive who admires Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and Samuel Beckett, after all.) Crucially, he shows a willingness to analyze his own image ... For Hollywood fanatics, Kilmer drops plenty of names and behind-the-scenes tidbits ... The most striking anecdotes come as Kilmer opens up on his connection to Brando ... If there’s a through line to I’m Your Huckleberry, it’s \'Love\' ... Kilmer gives particular depth to his relationship, and enduring friendship, with Cher ... There is a sense, though, that Kilmer is skimming over certain pivotal episodes. When he quickly chalks up his financial despair to a mismanaged attempt at creating a utopian commune, the reader is left with infinitely more questions than answers. He also seems reluctant to elaborate on his strained relationship with his father, and only spends a few pages musing on his health struggles and ongoing recovery. Other passages meander errantly ... To be fair, there is something charming and disarming about a celebrity memoir that’s willing to go off the rails. Rather than a carefully curated self-portrait, Kilmer offers a scatterbrained journey into his idiosyncratic head space.