PositiveThe Washington PostA slightly overlong, mostly chronological account of his sprawling life story ... Stewart’s recollections of his childhood home in Yorkshire, England...are precisely rendered ... Stewart reflects on his stage work, meanwhile, with profound fondness for the craft ... Enjoyable enough.
PositiveThe Washington PostPoignant...an intricate portrait ... Vulnerable, self-aware and admirably introspective, she confronts her childhood trauma to decipher how it shaped her ... For all its candor, Kelly’s book is short on details about her acting career ... Even with the help of a professional she credits in her acknowledgments, Kelly’s clipped prose isn’t always so colorful, as she too often leans on stilted dialogue recollections and ham-handed turns of phrase. But the lack of lyricism can be forgiven in light of her raw soul-searching.
Tim Blake Nelson
MixedThe Washington PostUnfocused if intriguing ... Aims to capture the totality of the modern movie business in a tale framed around one agent’s indiscretions, a power struggle between two producers and the unassuming director caught in the middle. But the 58-year-old author appears less interested in that central story than in its myriad digressions, as flashbacks paint a chilling portrait of the disparate and damaged personalities ensnared by Hollywood’s allure ... It all makes for an unflinchingly cynical take on Hollywood’s machinations and the ways in which outsize egos compromise art ... Nelson weaves through this narrative via nonlinear plotting, frequent point-of-view shifts and numerous forays into side characters’ perspectives. There’s something to be said for keeping readers on their toes, but the ambitious structure grows tiresome ... Unfortunately, Nelson precedes the wrenching epilogue with a bombastic, tone-shifting finale that’s as abrupt as it is incongruent. When hundreds of pages of methodically laid groundwork are cast aside so jarringly, one can’t help but wonder whether the journey through Nelson’s Los Angeles was worth it.
PositiveThe Washington PostAs Slytherin bully Draco Malfoy, Felton delivered a requisite amount of sneering during the eight-movie series’ early installments, then cast a more nuanced spell in the last few films. Such is the rhythm of the 35-year-old actor’s memoir...after offering many a rote recollection from the saga, he summons his demons and delves deeper in the final pages ... That introspection, about Felton’s more recent struggles with drugs and alcohol, elevates what otherwise would be a diverting but disposable tome of Harry Potter trivia. Still, if you don’t know a horcrux from a hippogriff, feel free to move along — Beyond the Wand should only be assigned reading for Hogwarts completists ... It’s mostly because Felton’s on-set observations feel painstakingly curated ... For a book so dominated by Harry Potter...it’s Felton’s experiences outside the Wizarding World that make Beyond the Wand worth reading ... Ultimately, the hook of Felton’s memoir is his perspective on living a one-in-a-billion experience. Yet Beyond the Wand is most insightful when Felton translates his tale into something more universal.
RaveThe Washington Post\"A gifted performer hounded by a diva reputation, Wu isn’t afraid to portray herself as volatile, cruel or conceited in enthralling essays that range from wistful recollections to uncomfortable confessions ... But Making a Scene is less of a mea culpa than a meditation on those mistakes (though there is a chapter titled \'An Apology\'). That willingness to not just address her faults but grapple with them makes Wu’s memoir all the richer. Throw in her talent for vivid scene setting, plus an understanding that reflections are nothing without introspection, and the Crazy Rich Asians star delivers a page-turner that amounts to much more than its headline-grabbing revelations ... While Making a Scene is light on laughs—and a few attempts at humor fall flat—the overarching experience isn’t as harrowing as those chapters would imply. Much of Wu’s story, rather, is driven by poignant memories of her varied flings and loves.\
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.