While I am loathe to recommend a book I haven’t yet read, as your resident Vintage Housekeeping, Hollywood worshipping, book reading, boudoir dweller, I feel obliged to pint you in the direction of Susie Boyt’s apparently spellbinding tale of what it is to live your life hero worshipping someone as universally beloved and perhaps deeply tragic as Judy Garland…
“At the cinema for the first time with my mother, I listened, transfixed, to Dorothy singing Over the Rainbow. I had never heard anything like it in my life. It was immediately clear to me that Garland’s singing bypassed all the indignity of strong feelings that I was grappling with, and instead she capitalised on her struggles, she absolutely led with them, presenting them as the best things life contains. Since early childhood I have always entertained a lot of dark thoughts-I put out a welcome mat for them, I feed them and clothe them – but Judy Garland, to my small frame, seemed miraculously to transform the harsher truths of life into something wonderful, where all feelings, however dark, are good and true because they’re yours. There was an instant –and I felt it even then-historic meeting between us, a kind of tessellation of spirit accompanied by thick bolts of not just fellow feeling but of fellow being. I wanted to slip right then inside the screen.
As I grew older Judy seemed to confirm the beliefs that I’d all my life held to be true:
* Things that are hard have more of life at their heart than things that are easy.
* The future must prove better and happier than the past.
* All feelings, however painful, are to be prized.
* The opposite of good feelings are not bad feelings but no feelings.
* Glamour is a moral stance.
* The world is crueller and more wonderful than anyone ever says.
* Loss, its memory and its anticipation, lies at the heart of human experience.
* Any human situation, however deadly, can be changed, turned round and
improved beyond recognition on any given day, in one minute, in one hour.
* You must try to prepare for the moment that you’re needed for the call could
come at any time.
* The fluctuations of the heart mark the trajectory of the human career,
but you must try not to pay this too much heed.
* There are worse things in life than being taken for a ride.
* If you have a thin skin all aspects of life cost more and have more value.
* Loyalty to one other is preferable to any other kind of human system.
* Grief is no real match for the human heart, which is an infinitely resourceful organ.”
I, for one, cannot think of anything more exciting than reading something that promises to combine autobiography, biography and a tiny sprinkle of self help in a book wearing Dorothy’s shoes.
Pray tell, does it sound wonderful or does it sound wonderful?