Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nicholson: A Biography by Marc Eliot

Review based on ARC.

Sigh.  I really like Jack Nicholson.  At least, I really like what I think I know about him.  I think he's a great actor and he seems really interesting.  I knew someone who was at a fancy resort'y island restaurant that Jack was dining at, and she said he was a complete A**.  This didn't shake my interest in the man or alter my favor of his acting.  Nor was it really surprising.  But then again, we all have bad days, and maybe that was just one of his.

I'm not a big tabloid girl (anymore) and I don't particularly love gossip.  I'm happy to watch actors on TV/movies and then maybe some day I'll read a biography or an autobiography.  Preferably authorized.

But, then again, this is Jack Nicholson, so I eagerly signed up for the advanced readers copy and I even more eagerly awaited my copy once I was informed that I'd won one!

So the "sigh."  Sigh.  This was not what I was hoping it would be.  And, from reading other reviews of other disappointed readers, I'm not alone.  The so-called biography felt more like an article in US Weekly than a biography.  I don't deny that Eliot did research, and I'm sure that he spoke with many "close friends" of Nicholson.  But the book took the tone of a gossip column... "hey, psst, READ IT HERE FIRST! Nicholson has problems 'down there'!"  It just felt kind of sad.

Who knows, maybe Eliot was on the receiving end of one of Nicholson's bad days.  But his tone was petty.  I'm not saying lift the man (Nicholson) up as a god and ignore his faults.  He has faults.  Great.  Show them.  But there are ways to show a man's fault (see, e.g., Walk the Line re Johnny Cash) without being petty and gossipy about it.  And, in this book, Eliot missed the boat.

So.  it's not a terrible thing -- there's a lot of good information in there, and I appreciated the time that Eliot spent seeking to learn more about a man that so much of the world finds fascinating.  So it gets a couple stars.  But the tone, the lack of real depth, the lack of a greater understanding of what really drives Nicholson, those things make the biography a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, TWO AND A HALF of 5 stars -- a middle-of-the-road rating for a book with a lot of potential and some noteworthy disappointments.

No comments: