As I Am, Patricia Neal

Pat Neal’s lurid-and-fascinating autobiography is out of print, but there are mega-cheap used copies all over Amazon, so, no excuses there. This is a dynamite read.

If, like most humans, you are completely obsessed with Roald Dahl, you’re going to find As I Am a little tricky. We’ve all already figured out that Dahl was kinda racist and kinda anti-Semitic and hated fat people and (wow, this is getting a little upsetting) was just a little bundle of unpleasant pathologies in general, but, crap, he was also a total juicebox as husbands go. He was no good. He was very bad.

There’s no need to get into the whole saga (generically nasty, left her for her friend, took all her money in the divorce, parental alienation, blah), but it’s okay to still love Matilda, I think. And Danny, the Champion of the World. And Henry Sugar and Six More.

But her marriage to Roald Dahl is only A SMALL PART (a dishy part!) of As I Am. It’s also a multi-decade affair with Gary Cooper, and an extraordinary Hollywood saga, and an interesting childhood, and a personal account of what it’s like to have a child who suffers brain damage after being hit by a cab, and what it’s like to have another kid who STRAIGHT-UP DIES, and what it’s like to then, yourself, have three aneurysms and need to relearn how to walk and talk and be in a marriage to a juicebox.

No, really. It’s a great book. RESILIENCY, everyone. Live through all that, you can totally get away with writing a bitchy divorce memoir, we promise.