Decent (if pedestrian) writing, factual errors aside. ("They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" wasn't Jane Fonda's debut, she'd already been making movies for a decade; Lucille Ball never received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, she was a presenter on the night of Lowe's Snow White Oscar debacle, etc...)
Lowe is a great mimic, and the fact that the book comes to life when he quotes dialogue points right to the heart of the problem -- good actors don't necessarily make good narrators. All actors can handle dialogue, it's what they do. But when Lowe has to narrate his own unremarkable prose, he flatlines. (His narration put me in mind of Richard Thomas', another good actor who simply can't narrate; I had to bail on his recording of "Heart Of Darkness" after about 15 minutes.)
He has no vocal variety. Whether he's discussing loosing friends on 9/11, his mother's death from cancer, enduring a harrowing audition for Francis Ford Coppola, or finding the love of his life, he never departs from his steady, measured, uninflected, slightly melancholy tone. If it weren't for the fact that his subject matter is sprinkled with tidbits on the rich & famous, his narration would be sleep inducing. (I listened while gardening -- I didn't trust myself to drive.)
Aside from the glittering supporting cast, it's a pretty tepid affair. He enters rehab without seeming to bottom out, and addresses his sex tape scandal without much perspective, and without giving the listener any idea of his mindset at the time he made such a major misjudgment.
The dialogue sections aside, the recording feels workmanlike, and contains a number of stumbles, wrong word stresses, etc... which imply that the actor and the production team just wanted to get it done. Listening, I ultimately began to feel the same way.
He expresses an admirable lack of bitterness and self pity over his various setbacks, but when you're rich, famous, handsome and celebrated, you hardly get major points for not whining.
I enjoyed Capatorto's reading of his autobiographical coming-of-age tale. While he may not be as technically skilled as many of my favorite narrators (he doesn't really have a great sense of pace variation), he brings to the reading his own personal experience of having lived it, the verisimilitude of which more than makes up for any minor shortcomings he may have as a narrator.
Give it a try.
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