The recent memoir from Paul Newman really ought to have been titled ‘self-critical man’, with the late actor casting a critical and analytical eye over his career and life.
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man is the result of a project started decades ago by Newman and his friend, screenwriter Stewart Stern. The pair got together and openly chatted about Newman’s life and career. Recordings were taken, notes were made, and everything was filed away. After his Newman’s death the recordings were thought lost or destroyed. That was until they turned up in a basement storage locker.
Newman and Stern began their interviews in 1986 when Newman was in his sixties with the project lasting five years until 1991. The result is a free flowing and honest account of Newman’s life. It’s not your standard celebrity memoir filled with private jets, Hollywood gossip or red carpet stories. Instead it is a more reflective lock at Newman’s life and relationships.
The Newman that the public saw in the movies was an often loveable and relaxed character. As is so often the case, the truth is altogether more complicated. Newman’s early upbringing was not a supportive one, with the actor openly detailing his complicated childhood and difficult relationship with his parents.
Newman’s writing style is quite raw and provoking, and shows the actor unafraid to be vulnerable and go deep. This memoir doesn’t just skim the surface. Instead it is one for the real Newman fans out there, and covers a lot of bases — including war, acting, his marriages, his politics, and of course those famous salad dressings.
With input from friends, family and colleagues, Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man is a setting straight of the public record. There are not too many shocking stories. Paul Newman’s life though hectic, was rarely scandalous. But, there is always a story to be told. And, here, finally, the public are gifted an unvarnished glimpse into the private life of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Paul Newman’s The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man is available now from Penguin Australia. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.