Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Review of Let's Face It. An Autobiography by Kirk Douglas

Studio_publicity_Kirk_Douglas.jpg (495×618)
Photograph in the Public Domain
I don't often read biographies or autobiographies of 'celebrities' but was drawn to Let's Face It, because it was the last book that Kirk Douglas wrote. I was curious to know what goes on in the mind of a ninety-year-old so I borrowed the book. It held a few surprises and didn't disappoint:

The title, Let's Face It, telling. The narrative is reflective and nostalgic. I learned that, despite fame and great wealth, Kirk Douglas was fundamentally no different from most of us, with the same strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and tribulations. Mr Douglas acknowledges that he was seen as a difficult man during his younger days, and disliked by some in his industry. He mellowed with age, as many of us do. In advanced age, he was both introspective and self-aware. He had let go of his egotism, whilst holding on to justifiable pride in his achievements. His good times were shadowed by sadness and grief, as is the way for each of us. He recognised his failings and carried some feelings of guilt and remorse. Most of all, he loved his family, and he grew wise and generous in later life, leaving a lasting legacy for those less fortunate than himself.

The narrative voice is clearly one of a person of advanced age and the format of the book is a series of anecdotes and thoughts, similar in style to a personal journal. Mr Douglas was not a professional writer. He didn't employ a ghostwriter for his book and the text lacks polished flow. Even so, it was an enjoyable read. I hope that I manage to survive to a similar age with my mental faculties so intact. The book is an engrossing read, some parts of it very moving. Recommended.

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