Life with Barbra, when she was Barbara, from the former boyfriend who helped set her on the road to fame and fortune. Though Streisand has tended to slight the efforts of those who shaped her early career, she has all but ignored actor and scriptwriter Dennen. However, playing Henry Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle, it was Dennen, apparently, who encouraged her to pursue singing when she was focused exclusively on acting, who pushed her to audition, who urged her to treat songs like compact dramas, who taped and critiqued almost every performance. In short, he did everything except teach her to sing. When they first met, brought together in a forgettable play, Streisand was still in her teens and Dennen not much older. Both of them were desperately, and usually unsuccessfully, pursuing the lights of Broadway. It was one of those meetings that create show-biz history. She brought raw, unburnished talent; he brought an unrivaled knowledge of show tunes and great chanteuses backed by a huge record collection, and he had a high-quality tape recorder. Although Dennen had doubts about his heterosexuality, the two soon became lovers. It lasted a little more than a year, falling apart just as Streisand's career really began to take off. Streisand fans will find much of this story familiar, but they will surely be delighted with the details and insights Dennen provides. He is a graceful writer, though his camp sensibility can border on clichÃ¢; despite some frank, even harsh appraisals, he sometimes swoons vapidly: ""If you met St. Peter at heaven's gate and he asked you what good you had done . . . I would say, 'I helped give the world Barbra Streisand.' "" A full and rare look at Streisand before she disappeared into a fog of myth and publicity.