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Book: Floor Sample (by Julia Cameron)

January 11, 2010

I shouldn’t be reviewing this right now; I’m really tired and bound to be slightly crabby about this rather odd memoir.

Julia Cameron is the author of The Artist’s Way as well as about a bajillion other works of fiction, non-fiction, plays, musicals, essays, etc. She has had quite a life (an understatement).

The book follows Julia from childhood through present(ish), through two marriages (one to director Martin Scorsese, and the other to Mark Bryan, collaborator on The Artist’s Way), alcoholism and drug addiction, professional despair and great success, moving from Chicago to New York to Los Angeles to Taos to New York to Chicago to Taos to New York to Los Angeles to Chicago… (you get the picture), and finally psychotic episodes and a return to (shaky) sanity.

What a ride.

I liked The Artist’s Way, but I find her style of writing to be a little… choppy? Over-simplified? I don’t know… it’s easy to read, but not at all lyrical. Maybe perhaps because her life has been so jam-packed with events and ups and downs, she seemed to skip or gloss over certain events (such as the development and impact of The Artist’s Way), while long passages were devoted to her lapses in sanity (which, to be honest, were pretty interesting).

The book is both extremely linear and very muddled. I don’t know — the content was interesting, but I didn’t love the writing style.

However, let me tell you, this lady is the EXPERT at “pulling a geographical.” When life gets rough, just pull up stakes and haul ass to New York, or Los Angeles, or Taos, or Chicago. I lost track of how many cross-country moves she undertook… often traveling to a place “on vacation” and then just never returning home — just having her things packed and shipped. That’s one way of (not) dealing with life, I guess.

I kept reading because the course of her life was pretty interesting, but I can’t say I loved the book. While undoubtedly extremely talented and gifted, she strikes me as (I hate to say it but) rather unstable in all sorts of ways. Her poor daughter Domenica gets pulled around through all these moves, and she (Julia) remains somewhat a victim to poor choices in men and an avoidance of facing facts. Which is interesting, considering that her most-famous work is based on 12-step recovery programs.

Anyway. I didn’t find this very engaging, but it was an incredible account of a very creative, full, occasionally happy but ultimately kind of unsettling life. However, I do want to do The Artist’s Way again. I feel like I’ve been through the wringer since I did it last, and I might actually “get” it this time. Maybe later this year.
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