On Literary Narcissism

By Victoria Looseleaf

“Hail to the Keef!” declared Little, Brown and Co. publisher Michael Pietsch, on learning that Keith Richards’ autobiography is among the bestselling rock memoirs of all time. And a good thing, too, as Little B. shelled out more than $7 million for the tome, Life, which received across-the-board raves, with The Leaf calling it, “the Citizen Kane of rock memoirs.” (Click here to read her review.)

But is the book worth a second read? Probably not. How could it be, when there’s so much more egocentric, narcissistic stuff coming at us in a constant stream of self-indulgence. Jane Fonda’s got another book out, Prime Time, with its ungainly subtitle: Love, health, sex, fitness, friendship, spirit – making the most of all of your life. Who came up with that one? And don’t get me wrong, The Leaf adores Ms. Fonda. (Click here to read her musings on the Goddess of, well, Just About Everything!). Below is a pic of Ms. Fonda from Barbarella, a flick she tells The Leaf she’d like to revisit in a sequel.

Perusing the NYT  nonfiction bestseller list tells us that the following peeps are incessantly droning on about themselves: The kidnapped victim Jaycee Dugard tops the list with A Stolen Life (while hers was undoubtedly an ordeal of mammoth proportions, does the world really need to indulge in this grisly, morbid past?); and Tina Fey’s Bossypants has been on the list for some 18 weeks now. (The Leaf hasn’t read this yet, but should she receive a copy, she would most likely get a few good yucks from Ms. Fey’s Mensa-like mind…). Then there’s some quarterback called Tim Tebow who chronicles his personal and professional course – from his career at the University of Florida to his rookie season in Denver, in Through My Eyes, written with Nathan Whitaker. (Gads, is The Leaf the only person left in this country who has never been to or watched a football game in its entirety, and why would those who have, care a whit about this, er, Whitaker fella’s subject?)

Into each life a little accordion-typist must fall: The fabulous Tina Fey!

And don’t get The Leaf started on that broad Chelsea Handler, whose self-indulgent tome, registering at number nine on said list, is called, Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me. In addition: Who, really, wants to spend time with Steven Tyler? His blatherings (scribed with David Dalton), tell of the rise, fall and rise again of Aerosmith, aptly titled, Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? Actually, Steven, everything about you bothers me. And God spare us, puhleeze, from Laura Ingraham’s Of Thee I Zing, as she satirizes (?) America’s cultural decline, from…body shots to muffin tops (would this latter topic be referring to the Ana Gasteyer/Betty White SNL sketch – click here to read The Leaf’s musings on Ms. G.)  Written with Raymond Arroyo, this poor excuse for a book is another doing-it-for-dollars piece of drivel.

And that’s just a partial run-down of the sacrosanct NYT list. So, if you’re seriously looking for some good first person reading material, go back to Proust and his Remembrance of Things Past (okay, it’s fiction), or Obama’s Dreams From My Father. The Leaf also fondly recalls Lillian Hellman’s Pentimento, and Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest: A Memoir.

The list is long and seemingly a lot better than today’s offerings. And, dear readers, somewhere over that rainbow The Leaf, as egomaniacal a writer as any, will be weighing in with her own somewhat sardonic story, Don’t Let Me Die On Doheny – if she ever finds time to get it into some sort of literary shape.

Pianist Yuja Wang in the dress that launched a thousand quips!

In the interim, The Leaf suggests you turn on the radio – preferably KUSC-FM – and listen to a broadcast by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl – Saturdays at 2 p.m. (The concerts are also available on line the week following the concert’s airing). Tomorrow’s broadcast features 24-year old French conducting phenom, Lionel Bringuier, who leads the Phil in Tchaikovsky’s epic Fifth Symphony, as well as a towering performance of the Rach 3, by another 24-year old, superstar pianist Yuja Wang, whose jaw-droppingly short orange dress had tongues wagging across the blogosphere and beyond.

In other words, have a wonderful weekend, the penultimate before summer officially ends with Labor Day, which, on that particular Monday, will be the first since 1966 without the über-narcissistic Jerry Lewis helming his Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Hmm…let the fall season begin.

About Victoria Looseleaf

Victoria Looseleaf is an award winning arts journalist and regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, KUSC-FM radio, Dance Magazine, Performances Magazine and other outlets. She roams the world covering dance, music, theater, film, food and architecture. Have pen - and iPad - will travel! Her latest book, "Isn't It Rich? A Novella In Verse" is now available on Amazon. Thank you for reading! Cheers...
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