Sunday, January 14, 2007

Book #4 Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn

I've been mildly interested in Katharine Hepburn ever since I saw Love Affair (the Annette Bening and Warren Beatty version) in 1994. She reminded me of my grandmother, on my dad's side, the one still living, and I told her as much.

When I saw Hepburn's autobiography at the bookstore, I decided to pick it up. First I flipped through it--in spite of my experience with Nick Flynn I still don't totally trust the non fiction--and I was delighted. The whole book reads as if she pulled up a chair and was talking to me. She would pause and say "You understand?" and, just like my grandma, her stories were sometimes interesting, sometimes ran just a bit too long, and were always filled with those gems of people who paid attention through life and were generous enough to pass along what they learned.

All I knew of Katharine (I feel okay addressing her by her first name, although she would probably not be!) before was that she wore pants before it was fashionable to do so and pissed a lot of people off because she was spunky (read: bitchy) and that she was in On Golden Pond with Henry Fonda. I didn't know about Spencer Tracy, about her mix of film and theater, and I didn't know that her brother had hanged himself (accidentally?) and she found his body when she was 14. Her stories were told from the heart, with no dressing up of language or embelishments, and I found myself laughing, shaking my head, and unable to put the book down until I finished it. The pictures included were plentiful and always applicable to what was being talked about (unlike so many biographies and autobiographies where a smattering of pictures is crammed into the center of the book). I learned just as much about her from the pictures as I did from her words.

The book isn't chronological, it's done in the style her brain worked...this reminded her of this which reminded her of this. Beautiful. Just like a story should be told.

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