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ONE MAN TANGO by Anthony Quinn


by Anthony Quinn with Daniel Paisner

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-018354-3
Publisher: HarperCollins

Oscar winner Quinn is back with another exercise in self- revelation, covering some of the same ground as The Original Sin (1972) and bringing his story up to date. Quinn seems obsessed by the aging process, if this book is any indication (although that is not unusual for actors). The framing device for this more or less chronological narrative is his demanding daily bike ride through the hills and villages surrounding his Italian home. He uses the outing as an opportunity to ruminate on the painful reality that he is losing friends, roles, and abilities to the passage of time. It also gives him entirely too many opportunities to wax philosophical, spewing pseudo-profound observations (``To be loved is the triumph of living. . . . I have been loved a thousand times, and still I am wanting. Does this leave me a triumphant success or a colossal failure?'') But when Quinn embarks on telling the story of his past, the book has flashes of genuine insight. The actor grew up dirt-poor with his mother in El Paso, waiting for his father, who was fighting with Pancho Villa. On his return, Quinn's father went through a multitude of hard, low-paying jobs before drifting, almost inadvertently, into the film business. Quinn himself has held a fair number of unusual jobs, as well. He was a boxer and a preacher working for Aimee Semple McPherson. The range of his associations is broad enough to include John Barrymore, Laurence Olivier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Feodor Chaliapin, and John Steinbeck; and there are several hilarious anecdotes. But too much of the book is taken up with self-flagellating retellings of Quinn's tempestuous love life, his roaring at the world, and his inner thoughts. The voice is unmistakably Quinn's, in spite of (or perhaps because of) celebrity coauthor Paisner (Citizen Koch, 1992, etc.), but that's not necessarily the best thing for the book.