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This Audition may be a flop

I can’t say I would have normally picked this off the shelf, but a friend offered me a nice fresh hardcopy version of Barbara Walters’ memoir. Surely, I thought, it would have some tasty bits. How could it not, with such a career?

Walters initially thought of titling her book Sister, since her only sister Jacqueline “was unwittingly the strongest influence in my life.” It’s a tale that many siblings relate to, at least if the virtual shelves of are any indication (search “the normal one” if you’re interested in this subject).

Unlike today, where kinder labels are arguably rife, Jacqueline’s label was “mentally retarded.” I’m not yet half-way through the book yet, but so far, this element in Walters’ life is proving to be the most compelling, so perhaps she really should have called the book Sister.

Instead, she called the book Audition. It is a reference to Walters’ sense that she always had to be auditioning for social acceptance since her father’s career keep them moving from one place, and school, to another.

I feel like I want to finish this book … see if there are any fascinating tidbits shared about her famous political and celebrity interviewees. But I keep stalling. One reason is purely logistical: I only read in bed and the hard cover is heavy for my now-sore carpal tunnel-ridden hand to hold.

The other reason seems to be a bit of stubborn defiance on my part. As in, “I’m not going to read this book on principle.” And that’s because a section of the prologue keeps poking at me the wrong way. I keep wondering … Did she really write that? Did I misunderstand what she was trying to convey? Did I just not “get” it right?

So, my dear blogosphere friends, I am looking to you to give me the answer.

I don’t want to bias you, so I will just provide you with the section as it appears in the book with no following commentary from me.

Before I end this prologue, let me tell you a story. Back in the sixties, when I was appearing daily on NBC’s Today show, I was living on Seventh Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street. My apartment was across from Carnegie Hall and on the corner of a very street. It was also near several large hotels that catered to businessmen. Perhaps because of this, the corner was the gathering place for some of the most attractive “ladies of the evening.” Each morning at five o’clock I would emerge from my building wearing dark glasses, as I hadn’t yet had my makeup done, and I was usually carrying a garment bag. It seemed obvious to the “ladies” that there was some big “number” I had just left. Now, bear in mind that, even then, I wasn’t a spring chicken. But I would emerge and look at the young ladies, some of whom were still teenagers. “Good morning,” I would say. “”Good morning,” they would answer. And then I would get into this long black limosine with its uniformed driver, and we would glide off into the early morning light. And you know what effect all this had on the ladies?

I gave them hope.

Perhaps this book may do that for you.

Edited to add: As of August 31st, this entry is now cross-posted here in the Blissful Buzz section of Blissfully Domestic.

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  1. I totally see what you are saying…that last line really bugged. Like, we’re all sitting around in the darkness here, wishing we could be *just like Barbara.* And if only she would share her wisdom, we could pull ourselves out of our horrible, whore-like lives!

    Strange. I also would not be able to read it on principle.

  2. Ya Jules, I’m still trying to figure out what she means by that.

    So she does mean that the “ladies” thought she was also a prostitute, and she was working a big kahuna john.

    But, perhaps she’s being ironic by saying that their misunderstanding gave them hope – a sad thing to hope for, which is perhaps what she’s trying to get across…I really don’t know though.

  3. Well, as the friend who passed along the book, I can openly claim to have had very mixed feelings about it. I picked it up thinking that Barbara has surely had an interesting life. Yet there is a superior self-interest that runs through it. Still, there are some interesting political bits. But, as you know it wasn’t a book I chose to keep because I found it meaningful.

  4. Even womanly fibre in my body jerked back and said “What?! Hope for what?”

    The comment is perplexing. Seeing a famous woman climbing into a limo to go to work is what I need to give me hope?

    Interesting though her life has been, barriers she has busted down and political intrigue she has been privvy to, I don’t need hope from Barbara Walters.

    I need hope from our world leaders that they are going to make the changes they keep promising so that my kids stand a fair chance. I need hope that people will use their voices to demand the change we deserve. I need hope that I can fit into the dress that I bought for a function coming up at the end of September after a summer of debauchery!

    Not just you Julie. It made me recoil in a “what exactly do you mean by that?” kind of way.


  1. […] Round period wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI feel like I want to finish this book … see if there are any fascinating tidbits shared about her famous political and celebrity interviewees. But I keep stalling. … yet had my makeup done, and I was usually carrying a garment bag…. […]

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