Mommy & Daddy’s Special Helper

Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for  True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness:  A Feminist Coming of Age  by Christine Lahti.

About True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (April 3, 2018)

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 childhood, 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.

Lahti’s wisdom and candid insights are reminiscent of Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Joan Rivers’s I Hate Everyone—and yet her experiences are not exclusive to one generation. The soul of her writing can be seen as a spiritual mother to feminist actresses and comedic voices whose works are inspiring today’s young women, including Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Caitlin Moran, and Jenny Lawson. Her stories reveal a stumbling journey toward agency and empowerment as a woman—a journey that’s still very much a work in progress.

True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness is about the power of storytelling to affirm and reframe the bedrock of who we are, revealing that we’re all unreliable eyewitnesses when it comes to our deeply personal memories. Told in a wildly fresh, unique voice, and with the unshakable ability to laugh at herself time and again, this is Christine Lahti’s best performance yet.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Peter Ash Lee

About Christine Lahti

Christine Lahti is an acclaimed director and stage, television, and film actress with a career that spans over forty years. She won an Oscar for her short film, Lieberman in Love; an Oscar nomination for Swing Shift; a Golden Globe Award for No Place Like Home; an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Chicago Hope; and an Obie Award for Little Murders. On Broadway, she starred in God of Carnage and The Heidi Chronicles, among many others. Her films include Running on Empty and Housekeeping. Her television shows include Jack and Bobby, Law & Order SVU, and The Blacklist. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

Follow Christine on Twitter.

 

What I thought…

I have enjoyed Lahti’s acting career and ironically enough I first became a fan after a 1991 TV movie, Crazy from the Heart.   I am sure that the film was totally saccharine but I loved that (a) her character was a high school principal, and (b) that she was not afraid to shock and amaze her small community.  Then, there was her long stint on Chicago Hope of which I was a huge fan (back in the day).   Lahti boasts Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Awards (the latter for directing a live short action film).

Let’s move on to her writing.

I think as we all age, reminiscing becomes more personal and perhaps sometimes skewed.   As memories are strained through our personal sieves (or as Lahti writes “sifted through personal filters”), I think these recollections may not be as true as they once were.  Lahti states in the introduction that she acknowledges this phenomenon.  She writes about “the fallibility of that kind of memory; how emotion and the passing of time can often cloud our recall and render us unreliable eyewitnesses to our own true stories.”

Her reminiscing may be skewed but her brutal honesty is not.  Each chapter is a stand-alone essay though some continuity can obviously be seen throughout the book.  She delves into her family life (with all the dysfunction that comes along with that introspection), her own naivete as a young actress, and her amazement as how industry people tried to dissuade her from her passion.

I enjoyed her dry and wry and biting sense of humor which was often self-deprecating.   I  can just picture her smiling as she typed the description of her stumbling into the audience to accost a theater patron during a pivotal role in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.   (If you know the play, think of the “throwing crutch scene” and you may be laughing yourself at this point.)

Since this is primarily a food blog, I always look for some foodie inspiration in the TLC Book Tour selections.   Food (and drink) in this book were sparse but when they were mentioned, it was almost as a crutch for Lahti to escape from the misogynistic world she often found herself in.  Sometimes she used food to descriptively reinforce the dysfunctional relationships around her.

  • Glasses of Champagne during her first and only foray into the world of escort services.
  • The “super-duper-deluxe hot dog” to douse her realization that the casting couch was still alive and well.
  • Giant glass of wine at the Golden Globes.
  • Her mother’s smothered catering to her father with Budweiser and a Ruben sandwich.
  • “Torch Lake Specials” (bourbon, lemonade, Curaçao, and a cherry) to help her parents wash away sadness.  “Sadness was not tolerated by my family; my parents simply didn’t believe in it.”

Here is my rendition of her parent’s special helper.

Mommy and Daddy’s Special Helper

Based on Lahti’s description of her parents’ “Torch Lake Specials.”

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1 c. sparkling lemonade
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Maraschino cherry

Instructions

  1. Place ice in a high ball glass.
  2. Add lemonade and bourbon and stir.
  3. Pour on pomegranate juice and garnish with cherry. Serve.

Yield: 1

I like the tartness of this cocktail (without the day-glo blue Curaçao  that was an ingredient in Lahti’s parents’ “Torch Lake Specials).   The splash of pomegranate makes a great color comment as well as that tartness that I like.

Although Lahti’s subtitle is “A Feminist Coming of Age,” I did not find this a preachy treatise.   I did enjoy her honesty and humor.

I’m linking up with Foodies Reads for April…

and Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.

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Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
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