The Other Side of Meby Sidney Sheldon
Author of over a dozen bestsellers, Academy Award-winning screenwriter, and creator of some of television's greatest hits, Sheldon has seen and done it all, and now in this candid memoir, he shares his story for the first time.
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The Other Side of Me
By Sidney Sheldon
WARNER BOOKSCopyright © 2005 Sidney Sheldon Family Limited Partnership
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAt the age of seventeen, working as a delivery boy at Afremow's drugstore in Chicago was the perfect job, because it made it possible for me to steal enough sleeping pills to commit suicide. I was not certain exactly how many pills I would need, so I arbitrarily decided on twenty, and I was careful to pocket only a few at a time so as not to arouse the suspicion of our pharmacist. I had read that whiskey and sleeping pills were a deadly combination, and I intended to mix them, to make sure I would die.
It was Saturday-the Saturday I had been waiting for. My parents would be away for the weekend and my brother, Richard, was staying at a friend's. Our apartment would be deserted, so there would be no one there to interfere with my plan.
At six o'clock, the pharmacist called out, "Closing time."
He had no idea how right he was. It was time to close out all the things that were wrong with my life. I knew it wasn't just me. It was the whole country.
The year was 1934, and America was going through a devastating crisis. The stock market had crashed five years before and thousands of banks had failed. Businesses were folding everywhere. More than thirteen million people had lost their jobs and were desperate. Wages had plunged to as low as a nickel anhour. A million vagabonds, including two hundred thousand children, were roaming the country. We were in the grip of a disastrous depression. Former millionaires were committing suicide, and executives were selling apples in the streets.
The most popular song was "Gloomy Sunday." I had memorized some of the lyrics:
Gloomy is Sunday
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
The world was bleak, and it fit my mood perfectly. I had reached the depths of despair. I could see no rhyme or reason for my existence. I felt dislocated and lost. I was miserable and desperately longing for something that I couldn't define or name.
We lived near Lake Michigan, only a few blocks from the shore, and one night I walked down there to try to calm myself. It was a windy night, and the sky was filled with clouds.
I looked up and said, "If there is a God, show yourself to me."
And as I stood there staring at the sky, the clouds merged together, forming a huge face. There was a sudden flash of lightning that gave the face blazing eyes. I ran all the way home in a panic.
I lived with my family in a small, third-floor apartment in Rogers Park. The great showman Mike Todd said that he was often broke but he never felt poor. I, however, felt poor all the time because we were living in the demeaning kind of grinding poverty where, in a freezing winter, you had to keep the radiator off to save money and you learned to turn the lights out when not in use. You squeezed the last drops out of the ketchup bottle and the last dab of toothpaste out of the tube. But I was about to escape all that.
When I arrived at our dreary apartment, it was deserted. My parents had already left for the weekend and my brother had gone. There was no one to stop me from what I intended to do.
I walked into the little bedroom that Richard and I shared and I carefully removed the bag of sleeping pills I had hidden under the dresser. Next, I went into the kitchen, took a bottle of bourbon from the shelf where my father kept it, and carried it back to the bedroom. I looked at the pills and the bourbon and I wondered how long it would take for them to work. I poured some whiskey into a glass and raised it to my lips. I would not let myself think about what I was doing. I took a swallow of the whiskey, and the acrid taste of it made me choke. I picked up a handful of sleeping pills and started to raise them to my mouth, when a voice said, "What are you doing?"
I spun around, spilling some of the whiskey and dropping some of the pills.
My father was standing in the bedroom doorway. He moved closer. "I didn't know you drank."
I looked at him, stunned. "I-I thought you were gone."
"I forgot something. I'll ask you again: What are you doing?" He took the glass of whiskey from my hand.
My mind was racing. "Nothing-nothing."
He was frowning. "This isn't like you, Sidney. What's wrong?" He saw the pile of sleeping pills. "My God! What's going on here? What are these?"
No plausible lie came to my mind. I said defiantly, "They're sleeping pills."
"I'm going to-to commit suicide."
There was a silence. Then my father said, "I had no idea you were so unhappy."
"You can't stop me, because if you stop me now I'll do it tomorrow."
He stood there, studying me. "It's your life. You can do anything you want with it." He hesitated. "If you're not in too big a hurry, why don't we go for a little walk?"
I knew exactly what he was thinking. My father was a salesman. He was going to try to talk me out of my plan, but he didn't have a chance. I knew what I was going to do. I said, "All right."
"Put on a coat. You don't want to catch cold."
The irony of that made me smile.
Five minutes later, my father and I were headed down windswept streets that were empty of pedestrians because of the freezing temperature.
After a long silence, my father said, "Tell me about it, son. Why do you want to commit suicide?"
Where could I begin? How could I explain to him how lonely and trapped I felt? I desperately wanted a better life-but there was no better life for me. I wanted a wonderful future and there was no wonderful future. I had glowing daydreams, but at the end of the day, I was a delivery boy working in a drugstore.
My fantasy was to go to college, but there was no money for that. My dream had been to become a writer. I had written dozens of short stories and sent them to Story magazine, Collier's, and The Saturday Evening Post, and I had gotten back printed rejections. I had finally decided I couldn't spend the rest of my life in this suffocating misery.
My father was talking to me. "... and there are so many beautiful places in the world you haven't seen ..."
I tuned him out. If he leaves tonight, I can go on with my plan.
"... you'd love Rome ..."
If he tries to stop me now, I'll do it when he leaves. I was busy with my thoughts, barely listening to what he was saying.
"Sidney, you told me that you wanted to be a writer more than anything in the world."
He suddenly had my attention. "That was yesterday."
"What about tomorrow?"
I looked at him, puzzled. "What?"
"You don't know what can happen tomorrow. Life is like a novel, isn't it? It's filled with suspense. You have no idea what's going to happen until you turn the page."
"I know what's going to happen. Nothing."
"You don't really know that, do you? Every day is a different page, Sidney, and they can be full of surprises. You'll never know what's next until you turn the page."
I thought about that. He did have a point. Every tomorrow was like the next page of a novel.
We turned the corner and walked down a deserted street. "If you really want to commit suicide, Sidney, I understand. But I'd hate to see you close the book too soon and miss all the excitement that could happen to you on the next page-the page you're going to write."
Don't close the book too soon . . . Was I closing it too soon? Something wonderful could happen tomorrow.
Either my father was a superb salesman or I wasn't fully committed to ending my life, because by the end of the next block, I had decided to postpone my plan.
But I intended to keep my options open.
Excerpted from The Other Side of Me by Sidney Sheldon Copyright © 2005 by Sidney Sheldon Family Limited Partnership. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Sidney Sheldon is the mega-selling international author of seventeen bestselling novels and one autobiography. There are now over 275 million copies of his books in print worldwide and he features in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most translated author. He is also a highly acclaimed, award-winning scriptwriter for stage, film and television. He died in 2007 at the age of 89.
- Los Angeles, California
- Date of Birth:
- February 11, 1917
- Date of Death:
- January 30, 2007
- Place of Birth:
- Chicago, Illinois
- Northwestern University, 1935-36
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Talk about a "page turner"!! I couldn't stop reading this book! Sidney Sheldon led a remarkable life and did it all while struggling with his manic-depressive (bipolar) illness! The first paragraph of the first chapter will hook you! He knew how to write. It's not only an interesting and fun book but an inspiring book! Shows what you can accomplish if you hang in there, keep working and never give up. Sidney Sheldon never stopped working. Amazing!
Amazing. Really well written. I wes captivatedby thefirest words. Keep going
All people are trapped inside themselves. You have four sides: Created, Hidden, Dark, and Light. The only side anyone ever sees is the Created Side, your armor, your shell. But it is not you. <p> Your Hidden Side is a mixture of your Light Side and Dark Side. It is the part of you that is afraid of the past, afraid of the future, afraid of the present. The part of you that yearns to be someone else, something else, something that your are not. It tries to hide behind the Created Side. It is all the fear of your body. <p> Your Dark Side is the part of you that yearns to be free, but should be kept hidden even more so than the Hidden Side. It is the part of you that wishes someone de<_>ad, or tells you to do something bad. It is your inner demon. Waiting to be awoken, it can grow bigger than all the other sides and drive you to insanity. <p> The Light Side is the thing you want to be, the way you want to be seen, the you that is kind. It does not yearn to be seen like the Dark Side, instead, it waits for its cue. But, sometimes, that never happens. <p> Alina walked around the alley. The fullmoon was up, but nobody was here. She had been sent a mysterious letter from Anon Emus, which had told her to meet in this alleywa on the fullmoon and release her full potential. She did not know who Anon was. <p> Suddenly, the moon became blood red and with a flash, the night became dark. Alina shook herself and lifted her head, looking around. There were three others of herself. "Ali, Alix, Alice, and Alina." Said the one with the black hair that had a red streak. "I am Alix." Said the same one eerily, a dark smile creeping across her face. <br> "I.... I'm... Ali." Whimpered the one with very long, pale blonde hair. <br> "Oh, I'm Alice. I'm an artist." Said the one with wavy brown hair. <br> "I'm Alina. It's nice to meet you all... um. How did you know everyone's name before we even met you?" She said to Alix. <br> "Well, we're all the same person."
A truly amazing life story by my absolute favorite author. He overcame much in his life to accomplish even more! A "must read" if you're a Sidney Sheldon fan. Each & every one of his books are real page turners and his story telling talents are superlative! I have all of his books and often re-read them as they are that good. So happy that Tilley Bagshawe has taken over his writing.
Simple, forthright and not beating around the bush- that's Sydney Sheldon's stlye! As soon as you begin reading the first paragraph, an interesting story is assured. Even if you are not an avid reader, you will be glued! It's as effortless as watching a movie! It's intriguing to know the writer's journey and experiences from being down in the pits to sumptuous glory. The book explores the elements with which a writer is made.
Sidney Sheldon! I was captured by his books shortly after he began writing them and have read / re-read all of them many times-- my abosolute favorite --'If Tomorrow Comes'. Some of his real life experiences show up in his story lines -- incredibly great! He puts you into his work -- you are immersed and living what you read. His real life story is so enjoyable and once again the MASTER OF THE GAME has given us a page turner!
Many would say that bestselling novelist Sidney Sheldon has led a charmed life. As a boy of 17 he would have laughed at that description, perhaps cried as he attempted suicide. He thought everything was hopeless. He lived in Chicago during the Depression - there was little money for anything, let alone college. However, 'The Other Side of Me' is the true story of how he beat the odds, lived with manic depression, suffered the devastating loss of a child, and became a heralded author with over 300 million copies of his books in print. He wouldn't have dreamed this when he worked as a theater usher. However, it wasn't long after that he became a songwriter, soon sharing notes with Irving Berlin. A man Sheldon describes as not being able to carry a tune or read music. All he had, Sheldon said was genius. Later, Sheldon would direct most of the Hollywood greats in films and create a host of popular television programs. However, Sheldon is more than candid in his memoir as we learn that while there were bright lights and star studded parties, he also battled personal demons. For many, his true story will be more enthralling than his fiction. Stage and television actor Mike O'Malley offers a distinctive reading as he traces Sheldon's life from depressed teenager to a man who has had 'an incredible career with great successes and king-sized failures.' - Gail Cooke
After numerous novels of excellence, Sidney Sheldon has done the public a tremendous favor by telling his own life story. The story captures his readers with the first page starting off as a Chicago youth facing traumatic odds, mental anguish and parental difficulties. Later, we journey to NewYorkCity where he gains cheap employment as an usher in one of the city's theatre. The story moves to California where he faces tremendous career and family ups and downs. He is the Master and his life's novel readilly explains his reasons as such. Absolutely an enjoyable autobiography that is thrilling told by this 88 year old author. A great uplifting story of outstanding worth.
Sidney Sheldon captured me years ago when I read The Naked Face and The Other Side of Midnight. Since then, I have read all of his novels, wondering how he could magnify and tell his stories with such authenticity. My favorite novel is Rage of Angels. Although, I also loved the novel Master of the Game. Now that I have read his memoir, I fully realize his talents. His personal story was wonderful, starting out as a youth in Chicago and traveling to New York and then to LA. His highs and his lows are detailed in this chronicle magnificently. I love this book and gained enormous insight regarding his life and his career as a writer, etc. He is definitely an inspiration to other writers by not giving up so I will keep turning life's pages as he states. This is THE REAL DEAL for sure. Mr. Sheldon is indeed the MASTER on the literary circuit and should be commended for his greatness and tremendous talent.
There's only one man who writes for readers and make them feel as though their living the book. His books make me smile, laugh out loud and cry with sorrow. Sidney Sheldon has a extraodinary way of taking the reader exactly where he wants his books to take them - to a Journey. Fantastic! I love him