OUT ON A LIMB by Shirley MacLaine


Email this review


. . . and sawing it off herself with this fatuous/tedious report on reincarnation and all that. MacLaine is an effective narrator, so parts of this story--notably her globetrotting affair with a Laborite MP and her celibate retreat with a youthful California guru in the Peruvian Andes--work fairly well, allowing for an occasional intrusive voice that seems to be whispering, ""Ah, chic, adventuresome, with-it me!"" But MacLaine spends too little time doing and far too much time talking--or thinking out loud. Metempsychosis, trance mediums, ""channeling,"" UFOs, ETs, you name it: she rattles on, by herself or with fellow believers or friendly skeptics, about every topic under the spiritualist sun. The problem is not that all of this, or any of it, is necessarily nonsense, but that she lets her mind (and her typewriter) wander aimlessly: no critical distance, no organization, and apparently no rewriting. The path of the autodidact is full of booby traps, and MacLaine falls into every one of them. She races through whole libraries of material, garbling as she goes: she claims that ""most"" great Enlightenment thinkers believed in ""the rebirth of the soul,"" she assigns Benjamin Franklin, Heinrich Heine, and Henry Miller to the ""same reincarnational boat,"" etc. And she listens creduously to her verbose, half-educated mentors, even when they tell her things like ""Christ said it: 'Know theyself.'"" MacLaine makes some effort to integrate autobiography with profession of faith (e.g., deciding that she and her British lover were spouses in a previous existence), but the whole thing never jells Shirley the vivacious Bohemian explorer has a certain appeal, MacLaine the rambling religious philosopher is an embarrassing bore.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1983
Publisher: Bantam