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Then Again

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Then Again

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    THINK


    Mom loved adages, quotes, slogans. There were always little reminders pasted on the kitchen wall. For example, the word think. I found think thumbtacked on a bulletin board in her darkroom. I saw it Scotch-taped on a pencil box she'd col- laged. I even found a pamphlet titled think on her bedside table. Mom liked to think. In a notebook she wrote, I'm reading Tom Robbins's book Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. The passage about marriage ties in with women's struggle for accomplishment. I'm writing this down for future THINKING . . . She followed with a Robbins quote: "For most poor dumb brainwashed women marriage is the climactic experience. For men, marriage is a matter of efficient logistics: the male gets his food, bed, laundry, TV . . . off- spring and creature comforts all under one roof. . . . But for a woman, marriage is surrender. Marriage is when a girl gives up the fight . . . and from then on leaves the truly interesting and significant action to her husband, who has bar- gained to 'take care' of her. . . . Women live longer than men because they really haven't been living." Mom liked to think about life, especially the experience of being a woman. She liked to write about it too.


    In the mid-seventies on a visit home, I was printing some photographs I'd taken of Atlantic City in Mother's darkroom when I found something I'd never seen. It was some kind of, I don't know, sketchbook. On the cover was a collage she'd made out of family photographs with the words It's the Journey That Counts, Not the Arrival. I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Although it included several collages made from snapshots and magazine cutouts, it was filled with page after page of writing.


    Had a productive day at Hunter's Bookstore. We re- arranged the art section and discovered many interesting books hidden away. It's been two weeks since I was hired. I make 3 dollars and thirty-five cents an hour. Today I got paid 89 dollars in total.


    This wasn't one of Mom's typical scrapbooks, with the usual napkins from Clifton's Cafeteria, old black-and-white photographs, and my less-than-thrilling report cards. This was a journal.


    An entry dated August 2, 1976, read: WATCH OUT ON THIS PAGE. For you, the possible reader in the future, this takes courage. I'm speaking of what is on my mind. I am angry. Target--Jack--bad names, those he has flung at me--NOT forgotten and that is undoubtedly the problem--"You frigin' bastard"----all said--all felt. God, who the hell does he think he is?

    That was it for me. This was raw, too raw. I didn't want to know about an aspect of Mother and Father's life that could shatter my perception of their love. I put it down, walked out of the darkroom, and did not open another one of her eighty-five journals until she died some thirty years later. But, of course, no matter how hard I tried to deny their presence, I couldn't help but see them resting on bookshelves, or placed underneath the telephone, or even staring up at me from inside a kitchen drawer. One time I began looking through Mom's new Georgia O'Keeffe One Hundred Flowers picture book on the coffee table, only to find a journal titled Who Says You Haven't Got a Chance? lying underneath. It was as if they were conspiring, "Pick us up, Diane. Pick us up." Forget it. There was no way I was going to go through that experience again. But I was impressed with Mom's tenacity. How could she keep writing without an audience, not even her own family? She just did.


    She wrote about going back to school at age forty. She wrote about being a teacher. She wrote about every stray cat she...

Reviews-
  • The Wall Street Journal

    "For anyone looking to join one woman's--albeit a famous woman's--touching and funny journey into the vortex that is the parent-child relationship, Then Again features an especially honest tour guide."--USA Today

    "[A] rich and ruminative autobiographical journey."--The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

    "Although peek-behind-the-curtain moments are delicious--Woody Allen! Warren Beatty! Jack Nicholson! . . . this is a [memoir] about a mother and a daughter, with insights and confessions and lessons to which all readers can relate."

  • Chicago Sun-Times
    "Both heartbreaking and joyful, [Then Again] covers the gamut of life experiences facing all women."
  • Hilton Als, The New Yorker
    "A poem about women living in one another's not uncomplicated memories. . . . Part of what makes Diane Keaton's memoir, Then Again, truly amazing is that she does away with the star's 'me' and replaces it with a daughter's 'I.' "
  • Vogue "This book feels like Diane Keaton. Which means it's lovable."--Entertainment Weekly

    "As warm, funny, and self-deprecating as Keaton's onscreen persona--[Then Again] traces a profound dramatic arc: that of a young woman coming into her own as an artist, and of a daughter becoming a mother."
  • Los Angeles Times


    "Then Again reads like the diary of an ordinary woman who suddenly became a movie star, who doesn't quite believe any of it happened, but it did."
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