Monday, July 4, 2011

In Search of...the summer of my youth

It's summer, the season in which I traditionally turn off the TV and read as many books as I can that strike my fancy. So while Oprah is gone from my afternoons, and the notion of a book club is appealing to me, I thought I'd start my own little book review. Rest assured mine will not be the stuff of great literature, but rather of the triumphs and flaws of human nature found in the very real lives of famous people.

The book market is flooded with my favorite genre - the memoir. It seems that everyone who ever lived has written a book about themselves, and frankly, I don't mind one bit, because I think people are inherently interesting. Everyone from Rick Springfield to Dick Van Dyke to Steven Tyler has books out. And I intend to read them all. I want to know the real stories, the inside scoop, the truth behind the illusion that fame masks so well. Or do I?

This influx of celebrity memoirs comes at a time when I long for what I call "my happy place," an alternate universe where good triumphs, and justice prevails, and all is truly well that ends well. This is a place that seems like a distant memory in our current world. I want to revisit a time where my dreams seemed possible and felt probable. I want to remember a time where what I loved in all forms of entertainment was current, a time before my favorite songs were played on oldies stations and my favorite stars were still recognizable before plastic surgery. Ah yes, I long for the sound of the Good Humor ice cream truck - before the diabetes kicked in. I'm asking for the impossible, I know. But this year, I am longing for the summer of my youth.

I don't want to waste any time about it, either. So my first read of the summer was Brady, Brady, Brady - The Complete Story of The Brady Bunch as Told by the Father/Son Team Who Really Know by Sherwood Schwartz and Lloyd J. Schwartz. Whew! That's already a mouthful, isn't it?!

Yes, I started with the show that was my earliest favorite memory of TV. Perhaps I should have let myself stay blissfully ignorant, untarnished by reality. Did I really need to know that the Brady backyard wasn't a backyard at all? That the grass was plastic and that Bobby was really a blond? That Gene Hackman was the top choice for the part of Mike Brady? Can I ever go back now to a time before conjuring the visual of all the "siblings" lusting for each other in Hawaii? Yes, I wanted the back story of the show, but what I realized as every last childhood illusion was shattered, was that this show was real to me. These people were real. To a four, five, six year old Ilene, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy were who I wanted to emulate. Their hairstyles and clothes were what I wanted mine to be. Alas, my thick, curly, frizzy hair would never look like Marcia's. On the upside, I never had to overcome a cocaine addiction. But still, somehow I wish I didn't know so much.

As a book, Brady, Brady, Brady is a quick, easy read - the book version of episodic television. The chapters are short, but it always kept my attention and gave interesting heretofore unknown tidbits. I would describe it as a good chaser for the darker subject matter to follow.

Well, on to the next book...

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