“Mom loved adages, quotes, slogans. There were always little reminders pasted on the kitchen wall. For example, the word THINK. I found THINK thumbtacked on a bulletin board in her darkroom. I saw it Scotch-taped on a pencil box she’d collaged. I even found a pamphlet titled THINK on her bedside table. Mom liked to THINK.”
So begins Diane Keaton’s unforgettable memoir about her mother and herself. In it you will meet the woman known to tens of millions as Annie Hall, but you will also meet, and fall in love with, her mother, the loving, complicated, always thinking Dorothy Hall. To write about herself, Diane realized she had to write about her mother, too, and how their bond came to define both their lives. And so, in a remarkable act of creation, Diane not only reveals herself to us, she also lets us meet in intimate detail her mother. Throughout her life, Dorothy kept eighty-five journals - literally thousands of pages - in which she wrote about her marriage, her children, and, most probingly, about herself. Dorothy also recorded memorable stories about Diane’s grandparents. Diane has sorted through all these pages to paint an unflinching portrait of her mother - a woman restless with intellectual and creative energy struggling to find an outlet for her talents - as well as her entire family, recounting a story that spans four generations and nearly a hundred years.
More than just the autobiography of a legendary actress, Then Again is a book about a very American family with very American dreams. Diane will remind you of yourself, and her bonds with her family will remind you of your own relationships with those you love the most.
From the Hardcover edition.
Diane Keaton has starred in some of the most memorable movies of the past forty years, including the Godfather trilogy, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Reds, Baby Boom, The First Wives Club, and Something’s Gotta Give. Her many awards include the Golden Globe and the Academy Award. Keaton lives with her daughter and son in Los Angeles.
©2011 Diane Keaton (P)2011 Random House Audio
Such a heartfelt biography I have never previously had the pleasure to listen to. Diane Keaton comes across as a beautiful caring soul, as does her mother, who suffered from depression (as well as many of life's frustration as a woman of her era. ) Diane's story is interwoven with her mother's story from both of their many journals. This is not a name dropping type of book, but a book of much introspection, both on Diane's part, and her mother's own struggles to find her "voice" Diane Keaton doesn't hold herself back, and one realizes, that however famous one is, or not, life's struggles, heartaches, and passions remain the same for all.
The predominant feature of this memoir is that is it almost entirely without conflict. There is no personal growth through adversity, no "coming of age", no sense of achievement that comes from meeting personal and professional challenges, nor any sense of "is that all there is?". Keaton's bulimia and her mother's Alzheimer's could have been main structural beams on which to hang the stories, but instead these issues are treated as incidental background players.
As a reader of about the same chronological age as Keaton, I remember well the Annie Hall persona and how it affected me at a time in my life where my own persona was not as well defined. How I envied her - the edgy outfits, the life, the blathering comic affect and seeming befuddlement turned into advantage. Things have changed for me, as well as for her. She's now a successful well-known actor but no longer someone I envy, as her looks and style have become mainstream and I have become more like the Annie Hall of the 60's. Sans the comic but clumsy befuddlement, of course.
The main thing that comes across to me in this memoir is not the idolizing of her mother, which actually works quite well as a series of dueling journals, not the odd and preciously stage-worthy names she gives her children, names which really are more appropriate for household pets. It's the fact that Keaton needs the creative charisma of a Woody Allen or a Warren Beatty, or the dark presence of a Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino in order to really shine. By herself she is just an average actor with an average mother who likes to write. And the family life she presents, while enviable in the sense of ease and comfort, is bereft of any kind of conflict or challenge. Her family is overflowing with love and goodness and movie roles fall into her lap, and by herself, Diane is just half of an equation.
Someone once said this about writing: "Want a good story? Part One, put someone in a tree. Part Two, get him out." The trouble with "Then Again" is there's no tree.
Kathleen in FL
I never knew much about Diane Keaton but I have always enjoyed the way she didn't seem to take herself too seriously. Her performances in Father of the Bride and the sequel, and in First Wives Club, are examples of what I mean. I never saw Annie Hall but just rented it on iTunes. Looking forward to that.
I enjoyed this book and the author's reading of it. Some of her inflections and laughs made ME laugh. Just terrific. What a genuine quirky woman! She didn't trash anyone. You won't make a mistake in listening to this book.
My only criticisms are that it was just too short, ended too soon and left a few blanks. For example, I would have liked to know more about the Hall siblings in later life (even though their lives are certainly not the focus of the book and the siblings may have asked Diane to lay off!)
Although some of the most mundane human stories have been transformed into works of art, this assuredly isn't one of them. Woody Allen was able to take Diane Keaton's life and struggles and turn them into a universal love story that touched us all. But Diane Keaton's story told by Diane is unbearable to the point of tears. She has a lovely voice, you want to hear what she has to say, but most of it sounds like those letters you get from family members at Christmas who can't be bothered to send more than 1 letter so they send it to 800 people. She reads from her mother's journals. I have nothing against journals. One of my favorite audiobooks is Nella Last's Diaries, the diaries of a anonymous WWII wife in Great Britain.It was so great to hear about the difficulties she faced during WWII and how she dealt with them. But listening to the very personal and private life of Diane Keaton and her sisters and brother and parents and grandparents in their most intimate details WAS EXCRUCIATING AND BORING FOR ME. Diane has a good voice which is how I managed to get to CHapter 10 without giving up. But not another word, it's too awful . Not even her relationships with interesting people are interesting to hear about. She's still trying to be cutesy at almost 70. It's a bit much. Her acting is a pleasure because she is able to connect with people, but her writing connects only with her navel. This is the wildly mis-edited fantasy project of an overindulged grown up confused over what she wants to be when she grows up.
I love Diane Keaton and have seen every movie she has ever been in. She plays cute, gutsy, quirky women. I love her! But this is a tale of life that would be interesting only to immediately family members in my opinion. I listen to books while doing pottery and this one had my face falling into the pots I was pulling. I absolutely couldn't stay awake. This is the kind of personal history that everyone should write . . . just not necessarily publish.
I really liked this book, but there was a little bit too much family history and not enough just about Dianne. She is such an interesting person that I wish she would have talked a little bit more about herself, but "then again," that's not what the book was about. It was really moving and had me in tears a few times, especially at the end when I understood the full meaning of the title of the book.
I really looked forward to listening to Diane's book. She is a wonderful actress and I've really enjoyed watching her in films, but her writing and reading did not inspire me to stay with the audio book.
I was honored to be able to hear so candidly the ups and downs of this beautiful, graceful actor. I have always admired her and now having read her story along with her mother's story, I am more in awe of her. She speaks with such truth.
Yes. She did a very good job writing it, and a great job reading it.
Diane's reading of her own words -- genuine emotions as punctuation.
It was fantastic -- as though she was reading the book to me.
I laughed with her and cried with her.
Don't be snobby about the fact that it's Diane Keaton and therefore not highbrow. Just read it.
Listening to Ms Keaton narrating makes her stories about her life and her mother's life more personal and extremely entertaining. Great fun!
I would compare it to Michael Moore's latest book.
Her transformation from her voice to her mother's makes the book a theatrical experience beyond merely reading words from a page.
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