An Oscar-winning actress from a celebrated entertainment family recalls her peripatetic childhood and adolescence, her various awakenings and epiphanies.
The granddaughter of Oscar winner Walter Huston (1949, for The Treasure of Sierra Madre) and daughter of Oscar-winning actor and director John Huston (1949, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, for directing and screenwriting) writes that she “was a lonely child.” However, so many personalities and celebrities swirl through the story that we begin to wonder about loneliness in a crowd. Born in 1951, she soon became a part of her father’s world, though he was often absent, off filming. She adored her mother (John’s fourth wife) but would soon learn that her father’s carnal needs were immense. He would marry a fifth time but also carry on multiple affairs with—it seems—just about any woman who would yield. The earliest sections of Huston’s memoir are the strongest: poignant details about her childhood affections, the men and women who worked on the Irish estate purchased with her father’s film profits (his habitual gambling ever endangered all), the quotidian routines of girlhood. But as time progresses, the memoir sags. Soon, her selection principle seems to be “I remember this, so I’m including it,” and a phone book of names assails readers, challenging both memory and interest. However, there are some amusing anecdotes—e.g., a plane ride with the Monkees, an appearance with an oddly detached Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. The death of her mother (car crash) was obviously traumatizing, as was a longtime affair with photographer Bob Richardson, an affair that veered toward abusive before its end. This first installment—to be followed next year with the second volume—concludes as the author heads to Los Angeles.
Banality clutches the text tightly, too rarely releasing its wings.