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". . . a compassionate and educational collage of dying and loving . . ."
Don’t look for a sizzling expose about actress Diane Keaton’s memorable romances with Woody Allen, Al Pacino and Warren Beatty in her memoir, Then and Again. Rather, it is a compassionate and educational collage of dying and loving, assembled from hers and her mother’s journals.
Keaton says her mother, Dorothy, was the most important person in her life and she couldn’t write about her own life without linking it to her mother, a prolific writer and photographer who left behind 85 journals.
Keaton is forthright about her past, not in a pathetic way, but a rather straight-forward manner without any outlandish revelations. It is this ordinariness that makes this memoir different. It is not about her rise to fame, but rather about relationships.
In her diaries, Dorothy recounts failed ambitions and her struggles with Alzheimer’s, while in a parallel perspective Diane’s journals reflect compassion and anger as she experiences her mother’s decline: “I just want Mom’s brain back.” But, Keaton, who never married, notes, it was her mother’s death that gave her the courage at age 50 to take a risk and adopt two children.
If readers can’t relate to the mother-daughter bond, they can certainly understand who she is, which, as it turns out, an insecure woman with constant need “for support and encouragement,” who battled bulimia. She credits Allen for her career, casting her in the role of “Annie Hall,” in which she won an Academy Award. She was simply playing herself, she claims.
The book’s format is unique. Like her mother’s collages, this memoir is laid out in fragments: pieces of mail, photographs, phone messages, diary excerpts, all interspersed with Keaton’s life observations and views.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla