Book by Diane Keaton, A Review
Today I slathered on several layers of Elta MD sunblock and even still, when I traipsed off to the beach, I wore a big brimmed hat. By the time I arrived at the long golden stretch of Cape Cod sand, I had wrapped my daughter’s long cotton bathing suit cover-up around my head and the hat, to prevent any errant rays of sun from reaching my face.
Not that the sun light wasn’t delicious, because it was: honeyed over and lavendered under, in that intoxicating Cape Cod way that delights painters. Pores all over my body opened to suck it in. But the sun light does things to skin, you see, crepey, wrinkly things that are to be avoided when you’re not a spring chicken anymore. And I am a 50 year old woman.
So it was with amusement and self-reflection and an understanding that has started to seep in with my alarming half-centennial mark that I read Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton. This book delves into matters of aging and having to redefine oneself as the temporal body decays around the immortal soul. That last bit, about the soul, that’s pure Traci Slatton, by the way, not Keaton.
It was surprising to me to read how critical Ms. Keaton is of her own looks. I’ve always found her beautiful. Extraordinary, really. It made me feel sort of tender toward her. I think of how critical I’ve always been of myself–looking in the mirror at my flaws instead of my grace notes–and I wasn’t a famous actress who was on display all the time.
Ms. Keaton’s reflections on, oh, eyes and hair and the polymorphous perversity embedded within the larger idea of beauty were interesting. The narrative was interwoven with memories and analysis of her family, her parents and her children, as if to know herself is always done in relationship with her loved ones. I expected more about her work, especially from a woman who never married.
There is some of that self-involvement which so many actresses, especially famous ones, seem to inhabit. It’s their all-encompassing ground of being just as fishes live in the sea. I could forgive it in this book because there’s such good reverie, and because Diane Keaton is a kind of pioneer. She holds a lamp and stands ahead of me on the scary but devoutly-to-be-desired road of getting older and older.
So yes, the book is good, not perfect, and worth reading.