Editor’s Choice: A nearly unisex memoir by Diane Keaton - The Buffalo News
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Editor’s Choice: A nearly unisex memoir by Diane Keaton

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton, Random House, 192 pages ($26). Once upon a time, it was possible to think of Diane Keaton as the most interestingly influential but evasive personality in all of American movies – an off-the-wall aesthete who had, undeniably, turned into a muse and first-rate creative sounding board for both Woody Allen and Warren Beatty in some of the most interesting movies either will ever make (“Annie Hall,” for Woody Allen, “Reds” for Beatty). When you saw her personal documentary from 1987 called “Heaven,” that impression could only deepen.

Where she is now at the age of 67 is vastly less interesting. When Woody Allen got her to pick up his hilariously incongruous Cecil B. DeMille Award at the last Golden Globe ceremony, she managed to compound the lunatic incongruity of it all by singing out her tribute “make new friends/but keep the old/some are silver/and the other gold.”

What you have here is that rare movie star memoir that is a) utterly and idiosyncratically the product of its author and b) only readable all the way through by those who share the author’s gender. The asides tossed into this are almost as head-rocking as that rendition of the childhood ditty honoring the least DeMillean director in American film history, Woody Allen. You’ll learn here, for instance, that it wasn’t until she kissed a wrinkled-up picture of Warren Beatty she’d kept with her that she was able to do a satisfactory version of a scene in the movie “Little Drummer Girl.”

It gets worse. This is, aside from its asides, a beauty book throughout, a trendsetting star telling readers her secret and not-so-secret thoughts about beauty, prettiness and her own relationship to her own appearance. And not just hers either. Pages are devoted here to bra shopping at Victoria’s Secret with her daughter Dexter (named androgynously for Cary Grant’s character in “The Philadelphia Story”). Others are devoted to her “addiction” to buying and selling houses (50 is the total she gives us).

I can’t imagine interested women ignoring Keaton’s beauty tips and reflections. I also can’t imagine anyone else not being disillusioned at the degree of puerile narcissistic vapidity that underlay her individualistic aestheticism. – Jeff Simon

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