One of Kirkland's distinctions as a dancer is her effort to imbue even the most clichÃ‰d role with some element of artistry. She takes the same approach to her autobiography--in this case transcending the genre of the ""celebrity confessional."" Each sentence of this book, written in collaboration with husband Lawrence, is not only well written, but well considered. Kirkland's material is plenty sensational, and includes: plastic surgery, anorexia and bulimia, cocaine and Valium addictions, involuntary confinement in an asylum, battles with choreographer George Balanchine, and affairs with Peter Martins and Mikhail Baryshnikov--among others. Readers dying for the inside scoop on these subjects will be happy to hear that none is spared, least of all Kirkland herself. Although doubtless able to dish the dirt on the backstage world of ballet, she limits herself to the stories which affect her own, thereby saving her writing from vindictiveness and vulgarity. Motifs of dispute and inquiry reoccur frequently throughout her 33 years. Part of the pleasure of reading this book is the way she treats sacred cows. Blasphemous as it may seem, she has the nerve to correct Baryshnikov and the temerity to question Balanchine. And with each encounter, she painstakingly recalls the reasons for her reactions. By the end of the book, you are acutely aware of the pain of perfectionism. An audience of people who have never read a ballet book will want to read this one. And they'll get their fair share of lurid tree stories, but also--because Kirkland has pushed herself beyond the accepted standard--a record of an especially harrowing struggle to become a woman and an artist.