Tag: memoir

Julienne Moore side by side with Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel

Julianne Moore Was Supposed to Star in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Here’s What Happened.

With a Metacritic score of 87 out of 100, based on fifty-three critics, indicating “universal acclaim” and a 98% on Rotten Tomatos with an average score of 8.24 out of 10, it’s hard to image Can You Ever Forgive Me as being anything different from what it is. However it was recently revealed that it was Julianne Moore, not Melissa McCarthy, who was originally lined up to play author and forger Lee Israel.


Lee Israel wearing patterned shirt and holding a book, with framed photo in the background. Julianne Moore wearing black against black background.

I see no resemblance, but that was half the issue. Let’s start at the beginning.

The New York Times wrote in Lee Israel’s obituary that she “was a reasonably successful author in the 1970s and ‘80s, writing biographies of the actress Tallulah Bankhead, the journalist Dorothy Kilgallen and the cosmetics magnate Estëe Lauder. But in the early 1990s, with her career at a standstill, she became a literary forger…”

An author turned bad, oh my! Never seen one of those.


Cover for "Can you ever forgive me"

Image Via Amazon


Struggling with financial troubles, writer’s block, and alcoholism, Lee Israel realized that she could sell personal letters and autographs from famous authors for money. So  in addition to forging many letters, also stole letters from archives and selling them, replacing the ones in the archives with fake ones.

No one is exactly sure how the FBI got hot on her trail (except, maybe, the FBI) but her memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger, indicates that after a Noël Coward expert insisted that Coward would not have referenced his sexuality so enthusiastically as he allegedly did in a letter provided by Israel, suspicion was aroused, putting an abrupt end to Israel’s scheme.

Knowing all that, it should be no surprise that her memoir was highly controversial when it came out. Book Reporter responded in a review for the memoir that the book is “a hilarious memoir of a self-described miscreant and her pursuit of a meal ticket. Ironically, in a joke the reader will share, by purchasing her book we all participate in buying her that meal.”

Well, at least they called the book ‘hilarious’. On that note the New York Times quoted Naomi Hample, a New York City bookstore owner who had purchased some of Israel’s forged letters in 1992 when she said, “I’m certainly not angry anymore, though it was an expensive and very large learning experience for me. And she’s really an excellent writer. She made the letters terrific.”

So Lee Israel is a touchy subject to say the least. Well, it made a pretty good movie.


"Can You Ever Forgive Me" movie poster

Image Via Amazon

Now it’s 2011, three years after the 2008 memoir hit shelves, and Variety breaks the news with this sentences: “Recent Oscar winner Julianne Moore is in negotiations to star in Nicole Holofcener’s Can You Ever Forgive Me for Fox Searchlight”. Come 2015, Variety reported that Julianne Moore had “exited [the production] due to creative differences”.

What happened? Here comes the Vulture!

Image result for vulture spider homecoming michael keaton green light

Image Via Los Angeles Times

Not that Vulture. This Vulture….

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Image Via Vulture

Vulture report that “Julianne Moore wanted to wear a fat suit and a false nose to play Lee Israel”.

So, take a look at the comparison between Israel and Moore pictured above… Julianne Moore wanted to fix that, and the Hollywood Reporter reported that Holofcener “is said to have felt that a fake nose would be too distracting,” which led to the Oscar Winner being fired. Moore told Watch What Happens Live! “I think that her idea of where the character was was different from my idea of where the character was, and so she fired me.” Despite the film garnering numerous nominations and a win at the Oscars, Moore has not seen it, saying it remains ‘a sort of painful experience.’



Featured Image Via Out


Jonathan Van Ness

Jonathan Van Ness of ‘Queer Eye’ to Release Memoir

Jonathan Van Ness, known primarily from the Netflix reboot Queer Eye, will release a memoir titled Over the Top through HarperOne! Jonathan’s natural star-power makes you fall in love with him immediately while watching Queer Eye (where he’s half the appeal of the show, IMO!) but he came from a humble start:

Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so…over the top. From choreographed carpet figure skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule and trauma—yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit.


Jonathan and Antoni



Jonathan Van Ness is a man of many talents—he also hosts a podcast called Getting Curious and stars in the video series Gay of Thrones. In each one of his projects, Van Ness makes it a point to be open and proud about his sexuality, but it wasn’t easy to get where he is now. HarperOne tells fans that the memoir “uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today.”


Incredibles Fab 5



This makes his memoir even more important, since even though it’s “easier” to be gay (or otherwise non-heterosexual) in America today, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Van Ness’s memoir will provide readers with a glimpse into the realities of his life, and will make his transformation into the icon we know and love even more admirable.

Van Ness’s memoir will be released September 24th, 2019, but in the meantime, fans can binge the next season of Queer Eye, which will be available through Netflix on March 19th, and read the memoirs of his costars! Many of the Fab 5 have already released memoirs or are working on them… The only member without any mention of a book is Bobby, who should definitely get to writing!



Ex-Maid Joins Michelle Obama on NYT Bestsellers List

My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”

The first line of a book sets the tone, opens the door, lights the fuse. From “My suffering left me sad and gloomy” to “Call me Ishmael” opening lines are a treasured and powerful thing in the literary community. The opening line of Stephanie Land’s new memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive is no different regarding momentous beginnings; her book epitomizes the ever-adrenalizing idea of #thegrind.


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Image Via Giphy.com

Half a decade ago, Stephanie Land was a struggling college student. On top of being broke and ambitious, she was a single mom, with another baby on the way. With very little support from her family, she cleaned houses for nine dollars an hour to provide for her children. In a gutsy, courageous turn of events, Stephanie Land decided to defy logic: she quit the maid life and went all in on her dream of becoming a writer. Her focus turned to her studies at the University of Montana, accumulating debt as a quasi-investment in herself. Two weeks ago, Maid became #3 on the New York Times’s Nonfiction Best Seller List, right behind Educated by Tara Westover and Becoming by Michelle Obama. In an article by CNN, Land describes the moment she found this out, on a plane:

As soon as I landed, I got a huge amount of texts, “she said. What followed was the type of tearful flood of emotion that so often follows moments of triumph. Against all odds, Stephanie Land had pulled off her own rags to riches narrative.

Image Via Amazon.com

The book’s narrative begins in Land’s late twenties, at a point in life where she was living in a homeless shelter with her infant daughter. At this time, cleaning houses was the only job she could find in Seattle. The memoir depicts poverty in a realistic and grounded way. Land’s situation was not caused by a lack of work ethic or moral compass. She wasn’t some lazy lay-about, undeserving of a solid paycheck. On the contrary, she probably deserved it more than some of the people she cleaned for. Being a maid isn’t glamorous, it’s not the type of job anyone would like to imagine themselves doing. But it is a job. The kind of job people take when their lives have become more about survival and love than dignity.

Before her book, Land’s life as a maid influenced an essay she wrote for Vox about the excessive number of painkillers she found in mansions she cleaned and the ways in which the people she cleaned for treated her, granting her a viral amount of attention. After college Land became a writing fellow with the Washington, DC-based Center for Community Change (which has now arranged a panel on poverty on which Land will appear).


Image Via Channel3000.com

Stephanie Land is currently touring her memoir, reading sections of her book, defying poverty stereotypes, and inspiring people. Her book outlines the difficulties for those relying on government assistance programs while balancing a family and college life. Maid is being noticed by everyone from Amazon to Neil Gaiman.

Land’s story adds even more legitimacy to the following statement: Moms rock. I’m talking The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Michael Jackson mooning walking at Motown 25, Mick Jagger still moving with the best of them at seventy-five years young kind of rock. Mothers are motivated by an indestructible and resolute love for her children; their needs, aspirations, and happiness. Every minute of every day is brick used to build the house that is her family. #metaphors They slave over suppers and sometimes starve so that their offspring can eat.

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Image Via Giphy.com

I, myself, have been fortunate enough to witness a magnificent number of maternal miracles in my lifetime; My mother has also dabbled in the maid life to support her family, hence my particular interest in Land’s story. Mothers like these show us that the limits placed on human beings by secular articulation are a vernacular that doesn’t mean shit. They are driven by love, using it as the needle in their compasses. Women like this can find their way home through an indefinite desert of ambiguity and still have enough gumption to lay a blanket over a freezing child. That’s the only type of work ethic and ambition that matter. While Land was able to come full circle and achieve the seemingly impossible, most unsung heroes—maids, janitors, bus drivers, service industry workers, moms…are not so lucky. Land’s story resonates with the worker, dreamer, and survivor in all of us.


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Image Via Giphy.com



Featured Image Via Stepville.com

Washington Post’s First Black Female Writer Blazes Trails With New Book

Making history wasn’t on Dorothy Gilliam’s mind when she started working at The Washington Post. Most days, she was just worried about making it into the office.


“I would sometimes experience panic attacks when I was walking to work,” she writes, “fearing what was happening at the office, what I would encounter there, who would not speak to me.”


In Gilliam’s book Trailblazer, she recounts her time working for the famous newspaper. Her battle to find a good story were happening simultaneously with her daily battles against racism and sexism.

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Image Via Amazon

Being the lone black woman in a newsroom, Gilliam was usually isolated from other reporters and worked extra hard only to be given little credit. Much of her reporting went against the grain by interviewing everyday people rather than wealthy men and politicians to get her stories, bringing a more diverse perspective to stories.


Gilliam’s book is available now on Kindle and hardcover. A paperback version will be available in September.



Featured Image Via NY Daily News

Stephen King

Writer Finds Heart-Wrenching Note in a Stephen King Book

You may know Stephen King from one (or more) of his famous books like It or The Shining, but you might not know that he also wrote a memoir titled On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

One writer, Summer Anne Burton, picked up a copy of this personal work at a used bookstore. While Summer Anne was probably expecting somewhat of a departure from King’s typical, horror-inspired work, she most likely wasn’t expecting the heart-wrenching note she found on opening the book…


Note Found Inside King Book




The note reads as follows:

Anthony — Please listen to me! I want you to start a savings account. Anytime you have more to “spare” drop it in that account. Call it “my survival account.” Never use that money. Let it accumulate and not even in an emergency take from it — only add to it.

If someone had told me years ago that I would be living at the poverty level, I would have said “never!” Well I’m struggling to stay afloat and I have no one to blame but myself. As a matter of fact I saw this book at a resale shop, it cost 54 cents, it’s your birthday present. I love you!

— Grandma

Twitter had a lot to say (as usual), and people turned on the waterworks:



Twitter reacts to sad note



Anthony, if you’re reading this… call your grandma!