Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What I Am Reading

Dexter and Duke (her adopted daughter and son) have changed my life. People say they're lucky to have me. I don't know about that. That's not the real story. The real story is, I'm the lucky one. They've saved me, and I know what from: myself.

~ Then Again - Diane Keaton (autobiography)

I took this out of the library on Sunday afternoon because it looked interesting. I've always liked Diane Keaton. Her performance in Mrs. Soffel with Mel Gibson will always haunt me. She's always seemed to me to be so very relatable and down to earth, like she's not even convinced that she's a movie star.

Anyway, that night my husband and I cuddled up in our newly organized basement den to watch The Golden Globe awards after the kids had gone to bed. Diane Keaton accepted a prestigious award for her friend, Woody Allen, and I flinched inwardly.

The next day, on Facebook, some of my friends indicated their disgust for Woody Allen and disbelief that he would have been given such an award, and that Diane Keaton could still possibly be friends with the man.

I have to say I agreed. The fact that Woody Allen seduced and married his nineteen year-old Korean stepdaughter, thereby destroying the bonds of his family with Mia Farrow, is something I cannot forget. He is also alleged to have abused another adopted daughter, seven years of age at the time.

So I was kind of interested to read this autobiography and see what impression Woody Allen had on Diane Keaton, and why they remain friends.

It turns out that Diane, twenty-three when she and the older Woody Allen 'dated', was in the midst of a secret five-year bout with bullimia. She admits, in one section, that Allen was always attracted to insecure women. She eventually conquered her illness and her romantic relationship with Woody Allen came to an end.

I can pass off her acceptance of the award on his behalf as a kind of misguided loyalty to a man who essentially launched her career and remained loyal to her.

The autobiography itself is entertaining and thoughtful. Diane interweaves a biography of her mother's life with her own, and the result is powerful.

Her mother, a young homemaker who abandoned her own dreams for marriage and to raise three children, eventually led a dissatisfied, isolated and introspective life before succumbing to Alzheimer's Disease.

The telling of Diane's own story, interspersed with excerpts from her mother's many journals, are fascinating and reveal a bond between mother and daughter that exceeds biology. Diane wonders what motivated herself to avoid marriage and eventually decide to raise two children on her own, and what motivated her mother to sacrifice her ambitions for her family? Was it just the times they lived in, or an intrinsic nature to discount one's own true value?

Throughout this memoir it becomes obvious that Diane's own inner demons of insecurity, self-doubt and body issues reflect those of her mother. However, coming to parenthood later in her life, and having achieved her own dreams beforehand, Diane is embracing and loving motherhood and the way it gives us something positive to focus on instead of spiralling down an endless chasm of narcissism and obsession.

~ Alison

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