It’s easy to dismiss Shirley MacLaine’s musings as the wacky nonsense of an offbeat celebrity—particularly when she relates tales of her past lives or declares her beliefs in outer space aliens visiting Earth from time to time, as she does in many of her recent best-sellers. But whether you buy into her spiritual travelogues or not, it’s impossible to ignore what a charismatic writer she is.
Truman Capote’s discovery that his mother was reading his private letters was the last straw. At 22, the writer packed his bags and left his home at 1060 Park Avenue in Manhattan for two rooms in 17 Clifton Place in the Borough of Kings. His 1946 rent: $10 a week. As he told the poet John Malcolm Brinnin, “I have changed addresses, have moved to a little lost mews in darkest Brooklyn.” After a subsequent decade of bouncing from address to address, Capote found the stability he craved in a beautiful basement apartment at 70 Willow Street, exclaiming to a reporter, “I love Brooklyn Heights. It’s the only place to live in New York.”
From making childhood cross-country journeys with her father to speaking on college campuses and at political rallies as an adult, Gloria Steinem has spent most of her life on the road—a domain historically populated by men. In the new memoir My Life on the Road, her eighth book, Steinem chronicles her years spent traveling the country; her stories of welcoming and companionship challenge the notion that the road is no place for women. Trips such as these certainly broaden our insight, and for those of us with less experience, armchair traveling with Steinem is a pretty good stand-in.
Carrie Brownstein’s circuitous, painful, ultimately triumphant time as co–lead guitarist and vocalist in the rock band Sleater-Kinney is the topic of her new memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. In the book’s prologue, the group is on tour in England, and Brownstein has shingles. She feels “liminal and weightless,” haunted by the sense that she’s about to destroy Sleater-Kinney, which she says had provided her with the “first unconditional love” she’d ever known.
In a London hotel lobby, Patti Smith and a stranger exchange words about the Henrik Ibsen play she’s reading by the fire. He remarks on the work’s symbolism, and she says she “hadn’t noticed.” After he walks away, she confides to the reader, “Personally, I’m not much for symbolism. I never get it. Why can’t things be just as they are?”
One morning in 1975, as Maui’s finest white sand cocaine drained out of his system and his weeklong bender came to a confused and paranoid end, comedy legend George Carlin suddenly became hysterically worried about the sun.
I’m familiar with Felicia Day from her recurring role as Charlie Bradbury on the CW’s paranormal drama Supernatural, but the introduction to Day’s new memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), reveals several other identities for which Day is decidedly more famous. You could say she’s a pioneer in scripted web series; from 2007 to 2012 she wrote and starred in a popular YouTube series about gaming, The Guild, which her own web production company, Geek and Sundry, created. She’s also a self-proclaimed social media addict—with 2.5 million Twitter followers—and has been dubbed Queen of the Geeks, a title she accepts but doesn’t personally agree with.