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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

This Is Not My Memoir

" Peter, says there are three stages in a life: Youth, Middle Age, and You're-looking-great! I've reached the age of You're-looking-great, and it's all a mystery. Gloria Steinem cites a Native American saying that old age is, like childhood, a time of wonder, because both are near to the unknown. And what a wonder my life has been."

I think of Andre Gregory as one of my "gurus;" I was 20 when the film he made with Wallace Shawn called My Dinner With Andre (directed by Louis Malle) came out in 1981, and it had an enormous impact on my life view and career plans. While Wallace's character values his comforts and routines, Andre's character seeks a life filled with magic, wonder and possibility, and values above all, a life devoted to art. Their conversation feels a bit like the archetypal Angel and Devil on the shoulders, and is akin to Plato and Socrates debating what it means to live a good life.

In This Is Not My Memoir, Andre talks about the making of the film, and his years preceding and following it as he navigates his career as an actor, director and artist. For the first time, Andre expresses regret that he was so self-involved and so damaged by his loveless parents that he neglected his own children, and that he didn't even know how to love until he (as a widower) married his second wife later in life. He also admits that his inherited wealth made his explorations into experimental theater, possible. But his book is nonetheless filled with his unique wisdom, his admonitions to wake up and act, to live a creative and imaginative life, and to keep growing and learning as we age.

"IT WOULD TAKE FOREVER to become a lighthouse, illuminated from within, as the great actor Erland Josephson once confessed to me. It wouldn’t be easy, and the world with its darkness would try to kill your light. But you keep trying. You keep learning. Maybe you get lucky and meet the love of your life in your sixties. Maybe you take up painting at seventy. Maybe, at eighty-two, you begin rehearsing Hedda Gabler with no promise you’ll ever finish."

I recommend the audiobook as it is wonderful to hear his animated yet soothing voice telling his fascinating story.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 on our Ripe Reads group on GoodReads. Hardcover 224 pages, Audiobook 6 hours 49 minutes.


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