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Woody Allen Memoir

Mark Harris: “What is at work here is not discretion (a word nobody on earth will apply to ‘Apropos of Nothing’) but incuriosity. “For better or worse,” he writes, “I sort of live in a bubble. I gave up reading about myself decades ago and have no interest in other people’s appraisal or analysis of my work.” Fair enough — many artists feel they need to insulate themselves that way, but Allen seems to have worked just as hard to insulate himself from… everything. He is not crazy about actors except as temporary employees; during casting, he writes, “I do not enjoy meeting people. I can never get the actor out fast enough… I have nothing to say to any of them.” Speaking of actors, there is also this: “I’ve taken some criticism over the years that I didn’t use African-Americans in my movies. And while affirmative action can be a fine solution in many instances, it does not work when it comes to casting.” Will it shock you to hear that the words “I marched in Washington with Martin Luther King” follow quickly? This appalling and antediluvian perspective is not just a blind spot or an age spot; it reeks of an iron-willed determination to resist time, counterargument and any self-interrogation whatsoever… What remains is the man, and on that score, ‘Apropos of Nothing’ is one of the most unsettling accounts of a life I ever hope never to encounter again, a slick comedy routine that evolves into a wildly protracted self-justification, then into the longest, most seething deposition/prosecutorial brief in history, only to finish as a series of generic toasts and hat tips.”

“Folks, you are reading the autobiography of a misanthropic gangster-loving illiterate; an uncultivated loner who sat in front of a three-way mirror practicing with a deck of cards so he could palm off an ace of spades, render it invisible from any angle, and hustle some pots. Yes, I eventually got blown away by Cezanne’s heavy apples and Pissarro’s rainy Parisian boulevards, but as I said, only because I would cut school and needed succor on those snowy winter mornings.There was no trauma in my life, no awful thing that occurred and turned me from a smiling, freckle-faced lad with a fishing pole and pantaloons into a chronically dissatisfied lout. My own speculation centers around the fact that at five or so, I became aware of mortality and figured, uh-oh, this is not what I signed on for. I had never agreed to be finite. If you don’t mind, I’d like my money back.”

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