Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: An Agoraphobic's Guide to Hollywood by Darlene Craviotto

Title: An Agoraphobic's Guide to Hollywood
Author: Darlene Craviotto
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Front Door Books
Publish Date: November 17, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You like memoirs that are off the beaten path.
What's the Story?:

From "When award-winning screenwriter Darlene Craviotto receives a call from Disney Studios asking her to write a musical PETER PAN for Steven Spielberg, with Michael Jackson in the starring role, it seems as though all of her Hollywood dreams are about to come true... If she can just get out of the house. Life isn't exactly a walk in the park for this working mom, with two restless kids under six, a neurotic agent, a demanding studio head, and a loveable "under-employed" actor for a husband- And then of course, there is Michael. AN AGORAPHOBIC'S GUIDE TO HOLLYWOOD: HOW MICHAEL JACKSON GOT ME OUT OF THE HOUSE is an irreverent, behind-the-scenes look at show business. It tells the true story of how an agoraphobic screenwriter learns to overcome her fear of stepping outside of the house, and starts to live her life again-thanks to a top secret project, and the most important assignment of her career."

My Two Cents:

An Agoraphobic's Guide to Hollywood is definitely a different kind of memoir. Imagine that you're a screenwriter in the early 90s and you get to work with the infamous Michael Jackson on a top secret project and the top secret project happens to be a movie version of Peter Pan (Note: this is way creepy to me knowing what we know of Jackson now). That would make for a good story, no? Oh, and just to make it a little more interesting, you have an oft debilitating case of agoraphobia (an anxiety disorder brought from being outside of situations you are used to. Even leaving the house can bring on anxiety). Of course all of this makes a really fantastic story!!!

Craviotto gives us a front row seat to the sort of show that Michael Jackson was. Michael Jackson has been a very divisive figure. On one hand, he made good music, really good music. The kind that when it's played still today, you just want to drop everything and dance. On the other hand, you have the weirdness, which you all probably know a little about so I don't need to say anything on that aspect. Craviotto shows us both sides.

As I mentioned before, Craviotto is a screenwriter by trade. This definitely shines through in the book. Drawing on actual taped conversations between Michael and herself, she gives a really full picture of Michael, who is sort of a complicated man. At one time, he was somewhat of a sex symbol. In conversations with Craviotto, he seems like anything but. He's almost childlike in sort of a creepy way. He seems so unassuming and just really, really strange. You can almost picture him saying some of the truly weird things that he says in the book. I think it was interesting to see a more personal story about Michael Jackson.

Another aspect of the book to mention is the author's agoraphobia. I didn't know much about agoraphobia at all before this book. The author discusses how difficult it was to go to her office (just down the street from her house) or out to meet Jackson at Neverland (whether you like Jackson or not, who wouldn't really want a tour if for nothing more than to see the weirdness?). It's definitely a rough disorder to live with. It was very interesting to learn more about this disorder as I didn't know much about it at all.

Bottom line: This is definitely a fascinating memoir!



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