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My Judy Garland Life [Paperback]

Susie Boyt
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

18 Jun 2009

Fascinating and extraordinary, thrilling and poignant, My Judy Garland Life will speak to anyone who has ever nursed an obsession or held a candle to a star.

Judy Garland has been an important figure in Susie Boyt's life since she was three years old, comforting, inspiring and at times disturbing her. In this unique book, Boyt travels deep into the underworld of hero worship, reviewing through the prism of Judy our understanding of rescue, consolation, love, grief and fame. What does it mean to adore someone you don't know? What is the proper husbandry of a twenty-first century obsession?

Boyt's journey takes in a duetting breakfast with Mickey Rooney, a Munchkin luncheon, tea with the largest collector of Garlandia, an illicit late-night spree at the Minnesota Judy Garland Museum and a breathless, semi-sacred encounter with Miss Liza Minnelli . . .

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (18 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084128
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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** 'I'm blown away by this book . . . endlessly thoughtful, moving and entertaining . . . the writing is superb (Joseph O'Neill, author of NETHERLAND)

** 'For anyone out there who still has a heart and isn't afraid to use it! (Head of the Judy Garland Fan Club)

** 'The book defies definition . . . it is a bold experiment that sets out to map the boundaries of celebrity obsession, and somewhere along the way discovers what it means to be human . . . beautiful, heart stopping writing (Viv Groskop, OBSERVER)

What a self-deprecating, funny, moving, entertaining read it is, a mad love letter from Susie Boyt to Judy Garland . . . It makes for a new kind of memoir, one that finds a way to insert, philosophically and emotionally, between the plain words "my" and (Ali Smith, THE TIMES)


'The book defies definition . . . it is a bold experiment that sets out to map the boundaries of celebrity obsession, and somewhere along the way discovers what it means to be human . . . beautiful, heart stopping writing' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 30 Sep 2008
Susie Boyt's latest is a dazzling, spine-tingling, catch-your-breath-in-awe compilation. The word "unique" is bandied about far too easily , but Boyt's book truly is unique. Where else would you find a sonnet to the author's favourite petits fours rubbing shoulders with a treatise on hunger, food and eating; where else a list of dramatis personae ranging from the Wizard of Oz to Cordelia to Lucien Freud to Johns Berryman and Keats? Bonjela (for mouth ulcers) makes a surreal appearance, to be followed by deep (and deeply fascinating)observations on drug addiction, mourning, and the art of consolation. This book scales the heights and explores the depths, moving from the sublime to the crazy; from the blackest melancholy of personal bereavement to the rainbow-coloured elation of singing a duet with Mickey Rooney in a fashionable West-End restaurant. The writing itself is vivid, original and higly inventive, with phrases such as "vanilla chilblains" and "sugar prayers" making this particular writer stop to relish them in admiration.

I began the book in ignorance and innocence, knowing shamefully little about Judy Garland, and never having been a fan of anyone (except of God the Father in my devout Catholic childhood). Yet I was gripped, amazed and fascinated by the sheer emotion and adoration poured out on Judy by her countless fans, who see her as muse, mentor, goddess, role model, inspiration and even alter ego. Boyt explores the whole nature of hero-worship - its links with obsession, neediness and the wish to live at a higher level- yet the book moves far beyond its subject.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This is an intensely personal and exquisitely conceived narrative that analyses the impact of a legend and enduring icon on one person's life. Two parallel journeys are interwoven with humour, pathos, anecdote, whimsical speculation and extraordinary insight. Garland's personality and legacy strides like a colossus throughout; yet never overpowers the author's articulate and sensitive observations of her own life and experiences. This is a sincere and brave venture that assimilates with great skill biography and autobiography. It will strike a chord with anybody out there who still has a heart and isn't frightened to admit it. The book encapsulates that intense intimacy and personal bond that many Garland fans feel towards Judy; that 'profound kinship' that unites devotees across the world. It's an acutely sensitive book where Susie reflects on her own battles to understand and master her own day-to-day life; the emotional world of love, laughter and loss that we all inhabit, and Judy is a passive companion throughout this process. At one point Boyt observes: 'I wasn't there at the moments of [Judy's] greatest triumphs and her cruelest despair. But she has been at mine' and it is a sentiment fans of any star or performer will share. One chapter, entitled 'World's Greatest Entertainer' stands alone as one of, if not THE most eloquent analysis of Garland's talent that I have ever encountered. Susie has captured the impact of Judy: THE voice, THE personality, THE agony, ecstasy and rollercoaster extremities. The book is rich with anecdotes, eloquent and evocative childhood memories, amusing 'what if...' speculation, humour and tears; and Judy is the key point of reference in Susie's life - omnipresent but never really getting in the way of Susie's story. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsessive Passion Tempered by Analytical Insight 15 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a strange amalgam of biography and autobiography in proportions roughly two to one. The rare alloy is a "tour de force" - an intensely personal eulogy to an individual whose charisma and talent preserved in sight and sound will long survive her short but eventful life.

The first chapters best encapsulate the obsessive nature of the devotion Judy Garland (née Frances Ethel Gumm) unwittingly unleashed in many of her fans, some born after her death in 1969 at the age of forty-seven. There is no doubt that Susie Boyt became enchanted very young. If you substitute in the phrase "What a friend I have in Jesus !" the words "Judy Garland" for "Jesus" you will have some notion of what it was like to catch the virus young ! Effectively it became nothing less than an intimate relationship, one to one !

However the author writes this book from the perspective of someone now mature, and if she was not born under the balencing sign of Libra she should have been because later chapters explore the areas of unhappiness this gifted star encountered and we are then displayed a totally different picture. Judy developped an addiction to alcohol and her perscribed medication, especially sleeping pills. With an inability to pace her life, because of or in spite of her five husbands, she somehow let the studios work her too hard, and her health broke down. It would seem the fans, (all but the bad-crazy ones), cannot bear to think of this and each secretly believes that had her life somehow touched his or hers a rescue of sorts would have been achieved and the story would be different.

This is really a powerful account of an obsession.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I'd hoped.
3/4 of the way through and enjoying it immensely, particularly the way Susie writes. Whether you're a JG lover or admirer of another star, phrases and sentiments will ring true.
Published 4 months ago by P. Houston
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely and utterly divine darling
I came to this book after reading the glowing reviews for it, not because I'm some kind of Judy Garland nut who thinks that anything about her is utterly fantastic. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Pale Jesson
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarity and Heartache
'Elizabeth Taylor has stolen Eddie Fisher from Debbie these things affect us.' Sylvia Plath wrote in her diary, before Assia Wevill had 'stolen' Ted Hughes from... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mo Li
5.0 out of 5 stars Judy lives
Quirky but always interesting. Susie Boyt has a turn of language which makes a point and makes me laugh. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jonathon Swift
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!
Susie Boyt is a wonderful writer. Extremely sensitively observed book. I highly recommend this book and any of her others - you will not be disappointed!
Published on 16 May 2010 by N. Westland
4.0 out of 5 stars a friend of dorothy
This is a book for anyone who has felt their loneliness lightened by hero-worship. Not everyone is as besotted with Judy Garland as Susie Boyt, but she describes her shyness, her... Read more
Published on 9 May 2009 by roadkillpantomime
5.0 out of 5 stars I defy anyone not to enjoy this book!
Having bought several copies to give to all my friends - I defy anyone NOT to love this book. You don't need to be a Judy fan to enjoy this book. Read more
Published on 6 May 2009 by A. Maurice
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Moving, Inspiring
This is an utterly wonderful book, part biography, part memoir, part novel, that sets out to examing all the different faces of love, loss and fame and find out what it really... Read more
Published on 6 May 2009 by Mr Man
1.0 out of 5 stars what a load of garbage
This book is a pile of self indulgent badly written rubbish. An example is near the beginning where the author states that four children were born before her and it was quite clear... Read more
Published on 6 May 2009 by R. Storer
1.0 out of 5 stars Booooring....
This book simply never starts. It goes on and on about nothing. Sad for a Garland-fan to say - but it's boring....
Published on 17 Feb 2009 by Gun Kvassleroth
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