Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book: Floor Sample (by Julia Cameron)

I shouldn't be reviewing this right now; I'm really tired and bound to be slightly crabby about this rather odd memoir.

Julia Cameron is the author of The Artist's Way as well as about a bajillion other works of fiction, non-fiction, plays, musicals, essays, etc. She has had quite a life (an understatement).

The book follows Julia from childhood through present(ish), through two marriages (one to director Martin Scorsese, and the other to Mark Bryan, collaborator on The Artist's Way), alcoholism and drug addiction, professional despair and great success, moving from Chicago to New York to Los Angeles to Taos to New York to Chicago to Taos to New York to Los Angeles to Chicago... (you get the picture), and finally psychotic episodes and a return to (shaky) sanity.

What a ride.

I liked The Artist's Way, but I find her style of writing to be a little... choppy? Over-simplified? I don't know... it's easy to read, but not at all lyrical. Maybe perhaps because her life has been so jam-packed with events and ups and downs, she seemed to skip or gloss over certain events (such as the development and impact of The Artist's Way), while long passages were devoted to her lapses in sanity (which, to be honest, were pretty interesting).

The book is both extremely linear and very muddled. I don't know -- the content was interesting, but I didn't love the writing style.

However, let me tell you, this lady is the EXPERT at "pulling a geographical." When life gets rough, just pull up stakes and haul ass to New York, or Los Angeles, or Taos, or Chicago. I lost track of how many cross-country moves she undertook... often traveling to a place "on vacation" and then just never returning home -- just having her things packed and shipped. That's one way of (not) dealing with life, I guess.

I kept reading because the course of her life was pretty interesting, but I can't say I loved the book. While undoubtedly extremely talented and gifted, she strikes me as (I hate to say it but) rather unstable in all sorts of ways. Her poor daughter Domenica gets pulled around through all these moves, and she (Julia) remains somewhat a victim to poor choices in men and an avoidance of facing facts. Which is interesting, considering that her most-famous work is based on 12-step recovery programs.

Anyway. I didn't find this very engaging, but it was an incredible account of a very creative, full, occasionally happy but ultimately kind of unsettling life. However, I do want to do The Artist's Way again. I feel like I've been through the wringer since I did it last, and I might actually "get" it this time. Maybe later this year.


Stefanie said...

Wow, unstable seems rather an understatement. Her poor daughter, she's going to be in therapy for years. I personally didn't care much for the Artist's Way so I'll definitely be skipping this one.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I live an hour away from where I grew up -- and, I can't stand the thought of moving. Sounds like a book I couldn't relate to at all. I hope you're feeling better. Curling up with a book (good or otherwise) would make me feel better! Have a great evening.

Daphne said...

Stef: yeah, my impression was not one of someone coming to a place of peace -- it was like, hold on for the ride! The whole time!! I liked the Artist's Way... but maybe there's a reason I've never been able to get completely through it..

Jolly Bee: No, I don't think she's a kindred spirit! :) I am feeling better, thank you for asking!