A Paper Life – Tatum O’Neal, 2004

Paper Moon was one of my very favorite movies as a child, partly because Addie Pray represented something I wanted to be–the opposite of the shy, goody-goody kid I was. (Also it’s a great con-artist movie, a genre I’ve always liked, and Madeline Kahn is hysterically funny in it.) Tatum–what a great name–seemed in that movie, and later even more so in the Bad News Bears preview (never actually saw the movie) and International Velvet, like the ideal combination of tomboy toughness and comfort in her own skin. But man, what a screwed-up life she’s had. This autobiography details a horrible childhood with uncaring, troubled parents, and the subsequent trainwrecks of adolescence and young adulthood. Alas, it’s not particularly compelling, aside from my (not unusual, but somewhat shameful) morbid fascination with the travails of celebrities, nor is it insightful. O’Neal says she’s doing OK now and says she finds solace in her children, but one doesn’t really get a sense of how exactly she rose out of the pit. Good for her, but I’m sort of sorry I took the time to read the book. When will I get over this pull to the junk food of literature, which I gulp quickly but leaves nothing solid behind?

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