Two Showbiz Memoirs
I'm way behind on documenting my reading in September, but here are two books that go together. In our family, we love the 90s TV show Babylon 5. We especially love Lyta Alexander! So a while back my husband got me the actress' memoir, and then I thought I ought to follow it up with another one....
Pleasure Thresholds: Patricia Tallman's Babylon 5 Memoir, 2020 edition, by Patricia Tallman: While there is plenty of Babylon 5 in here, I would not at all call it a B5 memoir, because it covers her whole life. From a difficult childhood to work as a stuntwoman (especially on Star Trek), a wobbly beginning on Babylon 5, and life after that, and happily with lots of photos, Tallman talks about her experiences, difficulties, friends, and life with her son.
It's highly readable and a lot of fun, and (this is my preference) lacks snipy Hollywood gossip. Instead there are lovely stories about various co-stars and friends, and an abundance of snapshots of people in and out of costume, because happily Tallmann was always taking photos. Any B5 fan would love this memoir.
Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood (with stops along the way at murder, madness, mayhem, movie stars, cults, slums, sociopaths and war crimes), by J. Michael Straczynski: As a small child, Superman was Joe's first hero and father figure. Surrounded by violence and poverty imposed by a controlling, drunken, vicious father who cherished fond memories of his days as a junior Nazi, he needed something to hang on to. Growing up, Joe never wanted to be like his father, and found refuge in science fiction, especially SF by Harlan Ellison. Instead, he decided to be a writer. Joe started in journalism and made his way through animated cartoons and TV series before landing his dream: a show with a 5-year arc, set on a space station. And then there was comics and movies. He chronicles all this with candor, a bit of detachment, humor, and gratitude.
Honestly, I expected to kind of skim this memoir, since I'm not that into Hollywood biographies. But this was a great read, very gripping, and full of insight. He wants to finish with two messages: don't be afraid to ask for help (citing friends who refused to get help for their addictions, and the tragic case of Michael O'Hare, who did seek help for his mental illness) and, no matter what the universe throws at you, from vicious bullies to quiet backstabbers, refuse to cast yourself as a victim -- get up and keep fighting.
Both of these memoirs get fuzzy about personal things in recent years and fail to mention that they dated each other for something like a decade, which I didn't know until later, but also that's kind of beside the point of either book. It does make me laugh though!
|She does spend a lot of time complaining about the black contacts.|