Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Hepburn

ISBN: 10-1-59691-351-7

I got this book from the library as well. The lovely Collier branch in Houston, Texas, my favorite branch outside of the Central Location. I got it mainly because of the cover (which you can’t judge books by) and the fact that I am a fan of Katherine Hepburn.

She was a woman who understood the world and her place in it. She loved passionately and with all her heart and she let nothing stand in the way of her goals. Sandra Bullock would come the closest to her true style underneath while no around comes close to her almost manly aggression and stubbornness.

This book, however, is written like a bad Barbara Taylor Bradford novel. So let me says this, BTB can be a great read, A Woman With Substance is awesome! However, she overuses her adjectives and you can find yourself skipping parts because they are repeated so much. (Emma Heart was indomitable and implacable but her enemies always knew she was fair and just, yadda yadda.) Apparently, Katherine Hepburn was brash. At least that’s the thought that Ms. Karbo wants to beat over our heads. She tries to show us through anecdotes but interrupts the showing for more telling.

This would be OK as this book is not a biography on KH but it is Ms. Karbo’s interpretation of KH’s life and how we should emulate her. We’re supposed to look at KH’s responses to things and not only go oohh and ahh, but figure out how we should respond in kind should these same set of life circumstances befall us.

For example, page 6 – The Importance of Being Brash, Katherine is arriving in LA wearing couture that is hugely inappropriate for the weather and general California looks.

During the long train trip across country some steel shavings had found their way into her eye, causing both eyes, for some reason, to turn red…. To Leland Hayward, her agent and future paramour, waiting at the train station to collect her, she looked like a cadaver with a drinking problem.

They repaired to RKO [a movie studio in the thirties], where Hepburn demanded to see a doctor immediately.

Instead of getting the doctor, Hepburn discusses fashions for her first movie, A Bill of Divorcement. She makes a wise crack and gets one thrown right back at her and thus forming a life long friendship.

What does this show us, ladies? What goes around comes around and actors/actresses are opportunists who fight for their chance to the top and will sacrifice (even their eye health) to get there.

The book doesn’t quite make it as a self-help/new living style. It ends up falling short and makes me think less of KH than thinking more of her. In truth, KH was just a woman with goals and a focused mind in real life. In movies, she was an outstanding actress who found good roles with good people (other actors and directors) and wowed the audience. Thankfully, for her and us we still remember and admire her in the movie roles she played.

However, emulating her caustic wit, comically gruff voice, and manish mannerisms will only get you labeled a bitch or worse. (Remember the feminist of the 80s – yeah ladies, we’ve been there done that and got no where with it.)

What made Kate Great was her singularity as an entity. She wouldn’t be great if she were common. Emulate her way of walking, her hairstyle or her manner of dress. But if you were to act like Kate it would lead to problems. Remember the real Kate understood the world and her place in it and I’m sure she would agree.

Out of 5 stars

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