Out of the Corner by Jennifer Grey
Fans of the actress.
In a nutshell:
Actress Jennifer Grey – best known for her role as Baby in Dirty Dancing – shares stories from her life, from childhood until now.
Why I chose it:
Someone was raving about it.
How it left me feeling:
How does one handle having a major success in their field and then ultimately not being able to reproduce it? What is it like when people who don’t know you are commenting on how you look, and making assumptions about you? And when telling one’s own story, how much of what other people have shared or confided can be shared in something as public as a memoir?
I think most of us know Jennifer Grey from her iconic role in Dirty Dancing, though some might recognize her as the recast Mindy character on Friends, who ended up marrying Rachel’s ex Barry, or as Ferris Bueller’s long-suffering sister Jeannie. In real life, she is the daughter of Broadway royalty, and also dated many of the hottest actors in the 80s, including Matthew Broderick and Johnny Depp.
One thing many people might recognize is that she had a nose job. She talks about this extensively at the start of her book, and provides context and background that I think most people just didn’t know, and judged her on. I found that to be interesting, because so much is fraught when it comes to talking about appearance, especially when it seems like someone has made changes to their appearance to meet certain white western beauty standards. But also … its her own face? Even if she had wanted the nose she ended up with (spoiler alert: she didn’t), why is that really any of our business?
Something that stood out to me most though was more of a meta observation about the nature of memoirs. It is someone telling their own story, as they remember it, with sometimes years or decades of time passing from when an incident occurred and when they are sharing their reflections. It’s their story, of course, and they get to own it, but I do think about how fair is it to people who may have passed in and out of their lives — possibly playing a major part, possibly just sharing one small but what they considered intimate moment — that their lives are shared as well?
For example, Matthew Broderick does not come off particularly well in this book, but the stories are about a relationship they had 30+ years ago. Is her recollection accurate? And even if it is, is there any space to consider how he might have changed in those 30 years? Do people, when reading these books, allow for that type of growth, or will they think Broderick of the 1980s is the same as Broderick of the 2020s? Does that matter? Should it?
I’ve read loads of memoirs (13 last year alone) but this was one of the times where those questions really stood out to me.
I didn’t know much about Grey before reading this book, and I don’t think I have much of a changed opinion of her. She’s been through some things, had some absurd adventures, and seems to really know herself as she enters her 60s. So that’s cool. She also talks extensively about motherhood, and stopping working as an actress to raise her daughter as an older first-time parent, and people with children might relate heavily to that. While I’m not sure I’d recommend this, I think people who are fans will find it interesting.
Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it: