An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
This was the other book I got for my birthday. I was eager to read it after reading Stories I Only Tell My Friends back in June. It was a graduation gift from my best friend who bought it as a gag, actually, since I had mentioned that Rob Lowe was my man crush of the week. But I LOVED the book and so was eager to read Love Life to hear more of his stories. In some ways, I think that hampered my experience reading it just a little, since it was impossible to read it without comparing it to it's predecessor.
I REALLY liked the book. It contained many of the elements I hoped it would. I love pop culture so getting a behind the scenes look is something I really enjoy. My favorite thing about Lowe as a writer (assuming it was in fact him and not a ghost writer, though either way the writing was good) is just how normal he seems. Like, take away the Hollywood elements and anyone could have written this book. I feel like I really get to know him as I read about his life, which is what I would like from a memoir. I got to read about a person who happened to be an actor, rather than reading about an actor, if that makes sense. To put it in a way that might be more coherent, the book was about Rob Lowe as a person, not as an actor.
One thing that I really liked about this book was how it was framed around his relationship with his sons. Fun fact, I'm a sucker for dad stories. Like, a loving father-child relationship will get me like nothing else will. And the way he writes about his sons and watching them grow up was very personal and moving. It made him feel more real, which, as I stated, is what I love about his books. So I'm glad he took that route.
There are two chapters in particular I want to talk about since they absolutely made the book. The first is the rehab chapter. Much like my love of dad stories, I'm a sucker for addiction stories. Alcoholism runs in my family. My mom sometimes calls me "the perfect alcoholic"(as far as I know I haven't reached that point), so I'm drawn to stories about people who have struggled with similar situations and overcame them. I loved his discussion of his addiction in his last book and so I didn't expect to be wowed much more in this one. I was wrong. It was incredibly personal and full of emotion. I full on cried when he talked about the athlete who's breakthrough he witnessed. But what I liked about it most was it didn't reach an overdramatic note, even though it easily could have been. It felt very down to earth and very honest, just a look at what it is like to be a recovering addict. His overall description of his struggle was incredibly moving and I'm so glad he talked about it in his book.
The other chapter that really moved me was the one about Bernie Brillstein. I had never heard about him before tonight when I read the chapter but by the end of it I really felt his loss and the impact he had on Hollywood. Lowe chose the perfect characteristics to characterize him, ones that I would really remember. I LOVED the detail about how he always got the worst seats at sports events. Overall it felt like the perfect love letter to a man who clearly meant a lot to Lowe.
As much as I liked the book though, I do feel like it fell a little short to my expectations. A big source of disappointment was the fact that he left out some of the quirks that made his first book so amazing. Mainly I missed the way he revealed his Hollywood connections. In Stories, he doesn't flat out say how he encountered the celebrity or movie, he walks us through it as how he experienced it. For example, rather than saying, "My uncle took me to see the set of Star Wars" he talks about how his uncle took him to the set of a movie, and how he thought it was kind of weird but kind of cool at the same time, and when he asked what a weird looking prop was he was told it was the Death Star. I literally reached across the airplane aisle, punched my Star Wars loving brother, and made him read that part just to see if he would have the same OH MY GOSH reaction that I had (he did). Reveals like that made me feel like I was right there, discovering these things with him. But he didn't do that in Love Life and so I didn't get those OH MY GOSH moments. He went the straight forward route and it put some distance between me and him, which was a real bummer.
The other thing that disappointed me about this book was he didn't seem as charming in this one. I don't want to say that he seemed fake because that's not quite the right word, but there was a lack of the genuineness that I had come to expect. I think a large part of that comes from this book being more about Hollywood as a business, rather than his experiences as an actor. In my experience, hearing people talk about business rarely makes them super endearing to me. I also think he tried a little to hard to sound deep in some parts, so he lost that naturalness his last book had. It wasn't terrible, like I still liked him by the end of the book. But it did lessen the experience a bit.
Overall though I highly recommend this book. If you like Rob Lowe or pop culture in general, I think you'll really like this one. I learned a lot about what it takes to make it in Hollywood or on the stage, and it just overall was a fun, quick read.
4 out of 5 stars