Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Am Sophie Tucker: A Fictional Memoir by Susan Ecker & Lloyd Ecker

Review based on ARC.

Sophie Tucker was undoubtably a fascinating person. She seemed to know anyone who was anyone... from Al Pacino to Arthur Conan Doyle to ... well, herself! And this fictional memoir seemed intriguing. I didn't know much about Tucker going into it -- more a recognition of the name than anything else. But I thought it sounded intriguing... a murder mystery, an insider's look at early Hollywood (or, at least, earlier...), the world of Vaudeville.... ok, sign me up!

And... it delivered. to some degree. So, fictional memoir. What was I expecting? I don't know, something more akin to Devil in the White City, I guess... a sort of novelization of real events. An adding of thoughts and emotions -- a researcher's best guess -- and maybe that's what this was. But it seemed a lot more fictional than that. It *felt* like someone was creating a whole persona for a real person. Which just felt weird. It felt like someone had decided THIS must be Sophie Tucker's *real* personality -- her behind-the-scenes personality.  And.... it was unsettling to me.

It felt surface. It felt false. It felt over-simplified. Like, rather two-dimensional. And,  I understand the authors did an inordinate amount of research, and had scrapbooks and many items of Sophie's own words to pull from... so perhaps Sophie was really just a two-dimensional person? Seems far-fetched. Much more far-fetched than the so-called "life and times of Sophie Tucker."

And that was my other complaint. Eyebrow-raising, inward gasping, behind-the-scenes reveals? meh. I get that this was a long time ago, and our standards are different now... but it still felt like this fictional character was going from "hey hey, listen to this CRaaaaay-zee story about me!" to yet another and another... nothing felt organic or ... well, real.

Buuut.... It was Interesting. It was somewhat satisfying to read about that time from a so-called insider's perspective. It was ok. I didn't love Sophie; I didn't hate her. I didn't really feel that particularly strongly about anyone except for her first husband.

As for the others... were they husbands? It felt like a lot was left out. How did she meet her 3rd husband? What happened? How did they break? What about the 2nd .... how did that become, er, formal? (did I just miss that altogether?) So yeah, it was the organization. The organization needed work. And as a result, the story suffered.

But it was ok. And if you're really interested in Sophie Tucker's life, from an arguably inside perspective... check it out.  The memoir is pretty consistent from beginning to end, so if you don't like the first few chapters, then you won't like it. If you do, you will.

Overall, three of five stars.

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