Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New Yesterday: Notes on a Life by Eleanor Coppola

Squint your eyes a bit and this is a book by any talented writer musing on her well-spent life thus far. Connecting characters from her distant past with figures from her near past and drawing them with a steady hand and a poetic heart. It’s all good stuff.

Many lives are rich and hold deep wells of experience and emotion to mine, and often it’s enough. However Eleanor Coppola’s Notes on a Life (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday) adds another layer because, with your eyes out of their squint, you see this isn’t just any ol’ garden variety talented writer. This is Eleanor Coppola -- yes, that Coppola -- and thus her internal mining is studded with encounters with people and faces we already know. Marlon said this. Frank said that. Wasn’t Sofia darling when she did that? All of these things add to the book. Take it to another even richer place.

An artist’s view of life. A filmmaker’s view of a life spent in film. A mother’s comment, joy and lament. Notes on a Life could easily have been just another celebrity bio but it is so, so much more. In fact, it’s never that at all.

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