Friday, August 26, 2016
REVIEW for Underfoot in Show Business by Helene Hanff
TITLE: Underfoot in Show Business
AUTHOR: Helene Hanff
RATING; 3 Stars
I love the way Helene Hanff writes and I adored 84 Charring Cross Road, which is why I am reading through all of the books written by Hanff
This one is interesting in that it is a memoir, albeit, she skips over HUGE parts of her life, but still, this is a fun and addicting read.
I have always said that reviewing a memoir is tricky - since you end up reviewing both the writing style AND the content.
As mentioned, love the writing style but Helene? not so much. I have heard many positive things about this woman and granted, there is a lot missing in this memoir to be able to fully flesh out who she was. Additionally, this was written at a very different time in society (I wish I could get an apartment in NY for what she was paying. But I wonder if Helene realized just how shallow and well....lazy she comes across? She is always poor, yet, gets fired at many jobs she has had because she was writing her plays instead of working. She has a one track mind and while this can be admirable, it can also be pushed a little too far, which is the case here.
The chapters where she and Maxine managed to get free movies, free plays while entertaining border on shameful. Yes, I know it is all done in the name of pursuing their art - but still....there is something a little sleazy about the whole thing.
In fact, at one point someone asks Hanff what she does all day and she says (paraphrasing here) "not much".... yet, she lives in patched pants? Maybe find a job? and write part time?
Yet, there is also a sense of security in this book, that everything will work itself out. I mean, Hanff seems to just sit there and things fall on her lap - free luxury meals, plum TV writing jobs.....
One thing I loved about this book was the way Hanff describes NY in the 40's....it all sounded so amazing, I could almost picture it.
So, conclusion for me on this one - love/hate relationship.