Saturday, October 3, 2009

How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am by Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin, looks back at the major events and private moments that have shaped his life. And, since he is one of the best storytellers around, he can't help but entertain while offering insight gained from a wealth of experience.

The combination of being impeached as class president by his fifth grade teacher (and then winning many school elections thereafter) with being thrown out of Hebrew School for asking too many questions (only to find a much better teacher as a result) informed Grodin's view of himself and made him adept at dealing with rejection--an important skill for an actor. Grodin's success in plays in high school and adventures in college theater led him to a career in acting, studying with the great teachers like Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg.

Grodin shares behind-the-scenes tales of working on plays like Same Time Next Year and movies like The Heartbreak Kid and Midnight Run--even how close he came to playing the lead in The Graduate. His stories feature the many actors, directors, writers, and producers, with whom he's worked, such as Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, Warren Beatty, and other colorful characters.

He has been an award winning talk show host and commentator on Sixty Minutes II, and he reveals insights about the political and personal side of journalism and some of the larger-than-life characters he's interviewed.

He shares intimate anecdotes of humorous dating experiences during the carefree 70s along with stories of what it was like to be a young actor then with friends and colleagues like Robert Redford, Gene Wilder, and Dustin Hoffman.

But it is Grodin's tales of the lives he's helped save with his relentless advocacy work that make you realize what a great guy Charles Grodin really is. We are lucky that the nice guy his friends call, "Chuck" brings us along to share a little of his journey of how he got to be who he really is!

The author is donating 100 percent of his royalties from sales of this book to Mentoring USA, a New York City based nonprofit that forges powerful, transformative connections for young people through the advocacy and involvement of mentors.

My Review:
This book demonstrates the dry wit of its author. If you "get" Charles Grodin, you'll enjoy this look at his experiences. Once I began reading, I had a hard time putting it down as his anecdotes are interesting.

Written in first-person narrative, Grodin comes across as an honest man as he tells of his own shortcomings and forgives most offensives directed toward him. However, he is human, and after being treated rudely, he cites his successes.

Rather than filling in details, he sometimes writes in snippets. Since he's usually verbose, I count this as a positive.


bermudaonion said...

You just made me realize that I won this book and never got it! After your review, I really want it too.

Dixie said...

I had read/heard that this was a very good book... now that you've put it on your review list, I'll have to add it to my reading list. Thanks Sally, as always.