Karen Valby
October 25, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Lessons in Becoming Myself

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ellen Burstyn
publisher
Riverhead
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an C

Ellen Burstyn, the wonderfully versatile actress who won an Oscar for 1974’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, has always been a tough, welcome presence on screen. That said, her woefully underedited memoir, Lessons in Becoming Myself, is a bit of a damp washcloth. From her earliest memory of degradation in Detroit to her spiritual highs on Himalayan peaks, from her years as a hoofer in New York to the sets of movies like The Exorcist, Burstyn writes an unhurried, dreamlike narrative that reads like it was dictated from her analyst’s couch. One of her great skills, she writes, is ”how to hang in until the tide changes, and until the Yin reaches its fullness and gives way to the Yang.” Yee.

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