Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Sunday, 28 September 2008


I wan to draw your attention to a new book by a dear friend of mine, Susie Boyt's My Judy Garland Life which is currently running through a series of rave reviews this weekend.

Susie is the daughter of Lucien Freud and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud. She is always fabulous company, but in this work which is not quite memoir and not quite biography she traces the life of a lonely child who first heard Judy Garland sing Over the Rainbow and found a friend. It's a book about being a fan, and it's a book about feelings. Here's the first review:

This book is a bit insane. It is too much. It is well over the rainbow. It is embarrassing. At the same time it is a brilliant analysis of embarrassment; it suggests that such strength of feeling is maybe something “to be prized”. What a self-deprecating, funny, moving, entertaining read it is, a mad love letter (“I inhale her and exhale her”) from Susie Boyt to Judy Garland, who “created a whole new theatrical idiom in which glamour and frankness nudge and jostle unabashedly”. Its unabashedness is its delight, and a large part of its moral courage.

It conjures up a hopeless openness of empathy, presents its readers with a sensitivity which, by its nature, can't not be damaged, then radiates cowardly-lion bravery. It makes for a new kind of memoir, one that finds a way to insert, philosophically and emotionally, between the plain words “my” and “life”, the everyday pathos, bathos and surreality of being alive in the modern, celebrity-glutted, couldn't-care-less Western world. . . .

This book, though, is stark naked. It wears its vulnerability like a birthday suit, and does so for all of us, in a spirit of born celebration. Can cynicism really be so simply out-argued? Can a book really be so analytical and high-kicking, so fragile and defiant at the same time? An insecure, anguished, megalomaniac, voracious, truly altruistic piece of modern thought, this wonderfully clever book gives its whole self, flings its arms out in a rainy street like a wonderful diva. Brava.

And did I mention she writes a weekly column about clothes among other things in the Financial Times?


Toby Wollin said...

Huh...when I watched the clip where Judy is writing a letter to Clark Gable, she's writing with her left hand. Interesting. Unless they did this specifically for the convenience of the filming(except that she's handling that pencil in a very 'natural lefty writer' manner), the fact that someone of that era was writing left handed is pretty amazing. Even when I was in elementary school in the 1950s, first grade teachers were trying in my elementary school to get us all to write with our right hands. But, perhaps because she was in show business at such an early age(I think she was part of a vaudeville act when she was like three or four years old), she was learning 'on the road' and no one made a big deal out of what hand she used; they were just glad she learned to write.

mq, cb said...

I adore Suzie Boyt. I almost sent her a fan letter after reading her first book. Hadn't realised that she had a column in the FT though. I shall seek it out.

Rollergirl said...

I LOVE her FT column. Had no idea she was a Freud. I bet she's a real hoot in real life, no?