Books by Barbara Aria

Released: May 14, 1998

It's okay not to have children, it's okay to have children, but it's not okay to follow blindly in your mother's footsteps, according to Tobin, a psychotherapist who also debunks the idea that "it's in a woman's nature to want . . . babies." Then in seeming contradiction, Tobin goes on to state that in choosing whether or not to be a mother, "we define ourselves in the most important way a woman can." That's a troubling statement, setting women up once again to be interpreted in terms of the uterus, whether or not it is used for growing babies. Arguing that women are far less free to choose whether or not to have a baby than conventional wisdom suggests, Tobin goes on to examine both cultural issues (having a child is "normal" or "natural") and personal ones (losing control of the toned body, the successful job, the satisfying relationship). Like many psychotherapists, she offers more questions than answers, encouraging the reader to do the work. Incorporating cursory and unconvincing case histories, the book begins with the toughest questions, like "Who am I?" and "What makes me a woman?" and goes on to "Will I get fat?" and "Why . . . do we consider childless women selfish?" The most revealing answers, according to the author, come when the question is reframed from "Do I want to have a baby?" to "Do I want to be a mother?" The answer is frequently a pained "I don't want to be my mother." The emphasis is on digging to unearth what others have called the "true" self. Tobin also explores the rugged road of infertility treatments, as well as both the positive and negative sides of being "childfree" and of mothering. A perfunctory and ambiguous road map for the often heart-wrenching voyage into self-awareness that more and more women are facing. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1992

Turner (All that Glittered, 1990) again turns a nasty eye on Motown's seamy flip side, this time on the chaotic careers of Temptations singers Eddie Kendrick, Dennis Edwards, and the late David Ruffin. Befriended in 1966 at age 12 by Flo Ballard of the Supremes, Turner served as dresser, makeup man, and errand boy for Mary Wilson and her ``fake Supremes'' in the early 1980's and, later, as road manager and gofer for the myriad combinations of former Temptations as they tried, often pathetically, to regain their lost glory. Admitting that ruthless Motown founder Berry Gordy, ``one of the biggest legit pimps in the world,'' used him to spy on some of the performers, Turner also doesn't dismiss rumors of his affairs with both Gordy and Eddie Kendrick. The author tells (and, in some cases, retells) all, from the early days of Diana Ross and her now legendary ambition to Paul Williams's 1973 suicide; from Gordy's alleged confrontation with the mob to the sad post-Motown stories of Mary Wells, Martha Reeves, and Marvin Gaye—whom Turner claims to have helped ``dress in drag,'' complete with wigs and female underwear. The infighting, backstabbing, carousing, and profligacy of the Motown stars receive a lot of attention here, highlighted by David Ruffin's drug problems and his death by apparent overdose in June 1991. Ruffin's funeral, presided over by Louis Farrakhan and paid for by Michael Jackson (Turner takes time to critique the floral arrangements), became a macabre circus as Kendrick was arrested for failing to pay child support and the corpse's patent- leather-and-rhinestone shoes were removed for enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Turner does lots of dirty laundry, little of it coming clean- -and he pays no serious attention either to Motown's music or to its role in the history of the American entertainment business. (Photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >
MISHA! by Barbara Aria
Released: March 20, 1989

A straightforward account of Baryshnikov's life and career thus far; but without an insider's eye to lend it a spark or some spice. Aria begins with the by-now well-known boyhood preceding Baryshnikov's defection at age 26 in Canada. Growing up in Latvia, with a military, remote father, and a seamstress mother (for both, this was a second marriage), Baryshnikov remembers tensions running high. While in his early teens and living away from home to study ballet, his mother committed suicide; a devastating blow, this is something Baryshnikov has discussed openly only of late. Aria continues on through the dancer's early professional days at the Kirov: "It was around this time that Misha and Natalia Makarova reportedly began a brief affair. . .Baryshnikov was infatuated with her. He would do anything for her." Several years later, Baryshnikov first saw Gelsey Kirkland, who would become another longtime partner when Balanchine and the New York City Ballet came to perform at the Kirov. After performing and exploring in the West for a while, Baryshnikov knew the lay of the dance land enough to name what he wanted: "In watching Tharp, Misha finally saw his real challenge." The result, of course, was that "Push Comes to Shove was a smash hit," and Baryshnikov was established here with a real personality. On the personal side, Aria makes note of the Lange/Baryshnikov liaison that gave him his daughter: "Misha and Jessica had a lot in common. Both were intensely serious about their work without being obsessional. They sought perfection but knew there were other things in life." And so on, to the present, including Baryshnikov's current trials and successes at American Ballet Theater. Aria covers the events in order, with brief quotes from the principles and some of her own interpretations of events. But there's no real new light cast here; and what we really miss is the sense that Aria had different or inside sources in compiling her account—Baryshnikov himself, or someone in his immediate circle. What we finish with is a distant, if competent, view. Read full book review >