Lessons in Becoming Myself

Lessons in Becoming Myself

4.0 9
by Ellen Burstyn
     
 

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By the time Ellen Burstyn arrived in New York to study acting, she'd already worked as a Texas fashion model, a Montreal chorus girl, suffered numerous toxic relationships, and just as many name changes and spiritual paths. Theater legend Moss Hart called her "a natural" but Ellen Burstyn was still trying discover who she was. This is the graceful story of a personal… See more details below

Overview

By the time Ellen Burstyn arrived in New York to study acting, she'd already worked as a Texas fashion model, a Montreal chorus girl, suffered numerous toxic relationships, and just as many name changes and spiritual paths. Theater legend Moss Hart called her "a natural" but Ellen Burstyn was still trying discover who she was. This is the graceful story of a personal and professional quest, a life-long journey-by turns triumphant and terrifying, tragic and funny, thoughtful and illuminating.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Burstyn's autobiography resembles a Hollywood film, complete with an abusive, self-centered mother, sexual predator father, and failed marriages. The Oscar and Tony Award winner reflects on her life and career here, exposing all the pain and difficulty as she moves toward spiritual and creative fulfillment. Born Edna Rae Gillooly, she left home at 18, first working as a model in Detroit and then taking a bus to Manhattan to try for a career in acting. After some lean times, she eventually met acting guru Lee Strasberg and became a student of his method acting, a technique that helped propel her into prominence. She distinguished herself in such films as The Last Picture Show, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and Same Time Next Year, in a role she also played on Broadway. Despite her professional success, Burstyn struggled with personal relationships; she married Neil Burstyn, a psychotic who stalked and threatened her even after they were divorced. Of primary interest, though, is Burstyn's ability to persevere against difficult odds and learn from her mistakes as she strives for knowledge and spiritual meaning. At times the abridgment makes for some abrupt and confusing content shifts, but overall the book is an enjoyable mix of insider film talk and New Age ideas. Burstyn reads in a pleasant though clearly mature voice, providing a convincing touch of reality. Recommended for large collections.
—Nancy R. Ives

Kirkus Reviews
Long-winded memoir of an actress preoccupied with her own psychic structure and spiritual side. Burstyn, best remembered for her roles in the films The Exorcist and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, chronicles the successes of her career on stage and screen, her difficulties in relating to men, her failures in marriage and her never-ending search for self-understanding. First, though, there's the unhappy childhood with a much-married mother. Desperate to get away, she left home on her 18th birthday, in 1950, working as a model in Texas and a chorus girl in Montreal before heading to New York, where, in 1957, she landed a lead in a Broadway play. Already, inner voices were guiding her acting, but her private life was a shambles, with her second marriage ending in divorce in 1962. Burstyn married again in 1964, and this toxic relationship and the effects on her of her husband's mental breakdown are the subject of much of this work. A lapsed Catholic, she was attracted to Sufi mysticism and fell for a time under the sway of a guru with a compelling line of spiritual psychobabble that seems to have influenced her own writing. By the '70s, she describes herself as being "in the embryonic stage of giving birth to my own self in life." With her acting career at its peak in that decade, her inner life was focused on spiritual concerns, especially the nature of a feminine god. Ashrams, psychic nutritionists and healers, channeling, fasting, meditation-they all come into play in Burstyn's continuing search for self-knowledge, which has involved not just domestic retreats but journeys to England, Switzerland, Turkey, Ireland, Bhutan and Cambodia. Among details she provides of her acting career,perhaps the most revealing concern her filming of The Exorcist. The actress proudly describes her refusal to say scripted lines because as an actress, she has created a living character and knows better than anyone what that character would and would not say. Movie buffs, Burstyn fans, would-be actresses and perhaps fellow seekers of self-realization may relish this self-absorbed narrative. Agent: David Vigliano/David Vigliano Associates

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101217504
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/02/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
255,502
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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