In this humorous debut memoir, the author looks back at her life, including stints as a rodeo rider, a photographer, Hollywood actor and more.
In her author’s note, Stobie explains that “many of these essays appeared originally as newspaper columns, and others I wrote recently about my early life”; she calls the book her “patchwork memoir.” Divided into six sections, the book follows Stobie’s life from her first riding lesson at age 3 to the present day. In between, she participated in junior rodeos, worked as a professional photographer and actor (she met Warren Beatty at the height of his Shampoo fame), married and had children. In tone, Stobie’s down-to-earth humor is something like a cross between Will Rogers and Lenore Skenazy, and her love of risk-taking makes for some great scenes. When just a teenage novice riding a bucking steer, “a huge Scottish Highlander with a shaggy red coat,” she said to the beast, “Hootman, you think you can make light work of this rookie. But I’m Scottish, too, so this ride will be one Scot on top of another.” (She earned a second-place buckle.) Her writing is thoughtful as well, with some nicely observed moments: As she begins a hike, “the sky is empty of clouds and quiet as a coiled snake.” The early sections discussing Stobie’s riding days and her brushes with Hollywood fame make for especially fun reading. Less so are the essays exploring such commonplaces as the tedium of science fairs and soccer practice or how men and women see things differently. The chapters on aging, second marriages and clearing out a parent’s home offer fresher insights. Looking back at her daredevil past, Stobie wonders “[i]f aging changes our judgment, as I think it may be doing with mine, how do I gauge what is safe to do? If I don’t risk at all, my world will shut down.” She doesn’t seem in much danger of that any time soon.
A humorous, thoughtful account with many memorable vignettes, though not every chapter hits home.