ASK Musings

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May 2023



Dying of Politeness by Geena Davis

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Those who enjoy a fairly light Hollywood memoir that primarily focuses on the industry while also providing some glimpses into one’s personal life.

In a nutshell:
Actor Geena Davis shares stories from her life.

Worth quoting:
“If a human can do it, I can do it.”

Why I chose it:
Looking for a fun listen while starting up running again.

What it left me feeling:

I didn’t know much about Davis’s life before reading this. I was familiar with her work in Beetlejuice and A League of Their Own, and Thelma and Louise. I also was vaguely aware of her work on gender representation in media. This book helped me feel like I know her a bit better now, though not a ton more, and she’s pretty upfront about that.

Davis has been acting since the 80s. She’s been in some very high profile films, and also had some fairly high-profile romances, including marriages to Jeff Goldblum and Renny Harlin. After finishing this book, I find her to be a bit intriguing. She’s honest throughout about her challenges with speaking up for herself and her need to be polite, but she also seems to have been blessed with a naivete that some could mistake for gumption. She would just do things that others would never dream of (such as pretending to be an animatronic mannequin, or sitting next to the director on set), but not because she wanted to be subversive – she just thought it would be interesting or cool or help her career.

One of the through lines of this book is her growth in her ability to speak up for herself, which culminates in her creating the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. It started out as a way to look at gender representation in children’s media, but now looks at other historically underrepresented identities as well. She also talks about taking up archery and making it quite far in the sport, which I found fascinating.

I appreciate that Davis chose to draw a line around her children – she doesn’t talk about their conception or really much of anything having to do with them. I’d imagine that will disappoint some people, since she had her kids at 46 and 48 respectively. She does touch on the inappropriate questions she received from the media about that, but explains that its just none of our business. And I respect that. She is open about her childhood, and her relationship with her parents and her husbands, but she chooses to keep that private. Good for her – we’re not entitled to all that information.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it

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