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Life Itself!

Life Itself!

(2001)
An Autobiography
A non fiction book by

 
The exclamatory trill of the title alone, Life Itself!, suggests an exuberance to Elaine Dundy's mostly jaunty memoirs but also an insecurity. One of three Brimberg sisters from a wealthy New York Jewish background, her grand father, a Latvian immigrant, had invented a type of screw that made his fortune. Elaine's designs, however, were more on screwball fun. Drawn to the stage, she left America for Paris and wrote The Dud Avocado, published to popular acclaim in 1958, which described her salad days as a rich young socialite in the French capital. Fascinated with the sassy, vivacious actresses of pre-war Hollywood and their witty, charming, suave leading-men, along came Kenneth Tynan, enfant terrible of 1950s English critical journalism. He carried a fearsome, bullying swagger reminiscent of Dundy's violent and abusive father. While she wanted to be a character created by Tennessee Williams, she fell in love with men written by "Papa" Hemingway. So she married Tynan.

Life Itself! is most intriguing in its depiction of Dundy's relationship with Tynan, though the details of his sado-masochistic "Oxford practices" have been well documented elsewhere, in his second wife Kathleen Tynan's The Life of Kenneth Tynan. Life with Ken, a Barbie in her flurry of frocks and socialising, saw Dundy circulate with a gilded cast of associates, rarely dull and never unknown: Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Cyril Connolly, Marilyn Monroe, Henry Green and Gore Vidal make frequent appearances, as she commiserates with the wives of Peters Brook and Ustinov how hard it is for actresses with illustrious partners to find work. Once the heart stops bleeding, what redeems passages of flapper frippery are when the screwball wit kicks in, or she pauses to allow her writing the space it cries out for, and justifies when allowed. When she finally left Tynan, after a brutal attack and serial psychological sadism, she produced mediocre plays, reasonable journalism, fuelled by the pills and booze which nearly ended her life. Rescued by electro-therapy and a discovered love of Elvis (of whom she wrote a respected biography, Elvis and Gladys), one hopes she is allowed to live out her days in California with peaceful reflections and calmer syntax. --David Vincent

 
Used availability for Elaine Dundy's Life Itself!


See all available used copies of this book at Abebooks UK or Abebooks US
 

Hardback Editions

June 2001 : UK Hardback
Title: Life Itself!: An Autobiography
Author(s): Elaine Dundy
ISBN: 1-86049-513-3 / 978-1-86049-513-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

August 2008 : UK Paperback
Title: Life Itself!: An Autobiography
Author(s): Elaine Dundy
ISBN: 1-84408-598-8 / 978-1-84408-598-9 (UK edition)
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

July 2002 : UK Paperback
Title: Life Itself!: An Autobiography
Author(s): Elaine Dundy
ISBN: 1-86049-558-3 / 978-1-86049-558-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

January 2012 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
Title: Life Itself!: An Autobiography
Author(s): Elaine Dundy
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   

January 2012 : UK Kindle edition
Title: Life Itself!: An Autobiography
Author(s): Elaine Dundy
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon UK   



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