REVIEW: TRUE STORIES FROM AN UNRELIABLE EYEWITNESS, BY CHRISTINE LAHTI

 

A fiercely intelligent, hilarious, and deeply feminist collection of interrelated personal stories from Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award–winning actress and director Christine Lahti.

For decades, actress and director Christine Lahti has captivated the hearts and minds of her audience through iconic roles in Chicago Hope, Running on Empty, Housekeeping, And Justice for All, Swing Shift, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, God of Carnage, and The Blacklist. Now, in True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness, this acclaimed performer channels her creativity inward to share her own story for the first time on the page.

In this poignant essay collection, Lahti focuses on three major periods of her life: her child-hood, her early journey as an actress and activist, and the realities of her life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. Lahti’s comical and self-deprecating voice shines through in stories such as “Kidnapped” and “Shit Happens,” and she takes a boldly honest look at the painful fissures in her family in pieces such as “Mama Mia” and “Running on Empty.” Taken together, the collection illuminates watershed moments in Lahti’s life, revealing her struggle to maintain integrity, fight her need for perfection, and remain true to her feminist inclinations.

My Thoughts: As a fan of the actress, I’ve enjoyed her humor and her down-to-earth and realistic portrayals of characters I’ve been able to relate to.

In True Stories From an Unreliable Eyewitness, Lahti described how memory is subjective, and that events are sifted through our personal filters. Individual family members would thus have very different memories of events they shared. I had seen this occur in my own family, with siblings experiencing quite different versions of events.

As she talks about growing up in Michigan in the 1950s, I felt a kinship with that picture perfect upbringing that could hide a multitude of frustrations, anxieties, and the quest for perfection.

Topics ranged from the counter-culture to aging, and in each stage of her life, she described her struggles to achieve her goals. In all parts of her journey, she has tried to find her authentic self, and fight against the demands of the male directors who expected sexual favors from female performers, and how sometimes she had to turn down roles that would erode her self-respect.

Back and forth in time, the author takes us along on her journey, sharing heart-felt moments and traumatic family episodes that could destroy someone without her strength and determination.

An engaging book that kept me interested throughout, I am awarding 4.5 stars.

***
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