Say Goodnight, Gracie!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I couldn't find a picture of today's book. There seems to be about 5 or 6 books with the same title and I ran across pictures for every one of those books, but not this one. So I'm sorry dear readers, you'll just have to settle for a picture of the subjects of the book.

Today's book, "Say Goodnight, Gracie! is a nostalgic look at one of America's favorite television shows: The Burns and Allen Show. Beginning with George Burns and Gracie Allen's first meeting in 1922 backstage, after one of Gracie's vaudeville acts, and following their careers through the beginning of their own vaudeville act together, the radio show that launched them both as stars, and the wildly popular television show that put them into the homes of millions."

Shallow thoughts:

  • I love reading books that take a behind the scenes look at television - especially the early years of television - so I was excited when I found this book. It turned out to be a bit of disappointment. I think it would be interested to die-hard fans, but beyond that I don't think it would appeal to very many people. I think part of the problem is that the bar was set high when it comes to behind-the-scenes-of-early-television books because I recently read Betty White's book, Here We Go Again: My Life in Television and it was so much better than this book. I'm sure part of the difference lies in the fact that Betty's book is an autobiography and this one was, so it felt so much more personal - and let's face it, who wouldn't want to spend a little time with Betty, she's delightful.

  • This book was a little short on the history of the show and a little too long on dialogue - there are some points in the book where the author recites actual dialogue from the show, and it goes on for several pages. It made me feel like I was reading a play (something I really dislike doing and spent most of high school trying to avoid).

  • While reading this book, I kept thinking that the story of Gracie Allen and George Burns' life together sounded so familiar - and then I realized that it's very similar to the plot of My Blue Heaven (not the crappy remake, but the original from 1950). I did some Internet research to see if the movie might have been loosely based on their lives, but I couldn't find anything. And now it's really bugging me. I hate it when I can't figure something out, like when I can't remember someone's name and spend several hours going through the alphabet in a desperate effort to remember what it was (I probably should spend that time driving to the health food store and buying so Gingko instead - this memory problem I have it really getting out of hand).

  • In the last two weeks I've read 3 autobiographies and 1 biography (I promise tomorrow I'm going to read something that's fiction), and so I spent most of the book debating with myself (in case you're wondering who won the debate: I did) about which is better autobiographies or biographies. On the one hand I think autobiographies feel so much more personal which I consider a plus, but then I always wonder if the author is sugar-coating their life and their own flaws which makes me think biographies are better. I guess it all comes down to whether I think an author is being honest or not, so it could go either way. Tell me dear readers, which do you prefer?

I'm not going to be doing Suggestion Saturday this week because I'm reading a special book on Saturday in honor of my brother's birthday, so instead I'm doing a special Suggestion Friday tomorrow in which I'm going to attempt to read the longest book I've read for the year so far. So, wish me luck dear readers. I'm going to need it because the book is over 500 pages.