Home, A Memoir of My Early Years, by Julie Andrews

Home, A Memoir of My Early Years, by Julie Andrews. Yes, this memoir is written by *the* Julie Andrews, the chanteuse extraordinaire in Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, etc.

It’s a nice book. And no, I don’t mean to damn it with faint praise. I just mean that the book is as nice as we always hoped Julie Andrews truly was, in real life. What is startling is the very difficult childhood Andrews came through – and came through well, which many may not have.¬† Alcoholic parents, poverty and neglect, hard work from a very young age, half-siblings to care for from the new marriages of both parents, being the primary bread-winner for her mother’s family from adolescence on – Andrews relates all this frankly and calmly. You can tell from her detailing of many difficult events that she was a sensitive child and adult. But there isn’t a hint of self-pity or recrimination anywhere. Life was what it was and most of all, she is grateful for the opportunities that came to her life, and the abundance of love in it. It’s a very British tale in some ways. No whingeing Pom here though, only the stiff-upper-lip sort!

Her professional-life stories are great. I didn’t know she was a stage actor as much (more actually) as a movie star. Her stories about acting with Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Canadian Robert Goulet, etc., are a book highlight – brutally honest, but affectionate¬† and amusing too.

I enjoyed it very much. I also enjoyed the writing, which is crisp and clear.

Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern

Good morning, memoir readers. Today we have a guest column from author and journalist Silver Donald Cameron, who just finished reading a Xmas-time book gift, Sh*t My Father Says, by Justin Halpern. He says it is a memoir “of sorts,” and of course it is a hit TV show right now, too, starring ever-energetic William Shatner. So here is the book review.

“I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book. In fact, the first time I tried to read it, I set it aside in the give-away pile after reading the first few pages. Here’s a guy, 28 years old, dumped by his girl friend, and he moves back in with his mother and his fierce, foul-mouthed father. We’re amused? We are not. Jesus Christ, I can let drive with a fuck-shot as well as the best of them when I need to, but I also know other ways to make my point. This flathead evidently doesn’t.
“Then I was reminded that the book came from a friend whose taste in humour — and in books —¬† was excellent. I picked up the book again. I read. I read a little more.
“After a bit you get over the poverty of the guy’s vocabulary. It’s just part of who he is. Then you start to see his capacity to put the bald truth in stark terms, garnished with cussin’, and before you know it you’re howling with laughter.
“On kindergarten: “You thought it was hard? If kindergarten is busting your ass, I got some bad news for you about the rest of life.”
“On table manners: “Jesus Christ, can we have one dinner where you don’t spill something? No, Joni, he does do it on purpose, because if he doesn’t, that means he’s just mentally handicapped, and none of the tests showed that.”
“On his son’s proposed tattoo: “You can do what you want. But I can also do what I want. And what I’ll be doing is telling everyone how fucking stupid your tattoo is.”

“I want to go back to being a young father, and try the whole fucking thing again. I was way too fucking polite.”