This Is Not My Memoir
By Andre Gregory and Todd London. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 224 pages, $27.)
Andre Gregory's look back on his life — and it is just that, even though the title claims otherwise — is the perfect bathroom book, or waiting room book, if you prefer. Chapters are short, episodic and engaging in a "you've got to be kidding me" kind of way.
Don't know who he is? Not a problem. You'll still find his exploits fascinating because the theater director, actor, writer and artist has led a fascinating life: He was born in Paris in 1934 to well-to-do Jewish parents who had fled Germany, only to flee again, to America, when France was invaded. Once in the U.S., his parents hobnobbed with the rich and famous. And that's just a tip of the autobiographical iceberg.
But better yet, Gregory is a consummate storyteller.
If you've seen the 1981 film "My Dinner With Andre," arguably what Gregory's best known for, then you have some idea of his breathless, no-holds-barred-way of telling a tale. He plays a character based on himself in conversation with actor Wally Shawn, who also plays a character based on himself. Confusing, sure, but riveting, as the two talk about everything over a meal in a restaurant.
Equally riveting are the book's fleshed-out versions of the events talked about, and how the movie came together, along with Gregory's early years as an iconoclast of the theatrical world followed by years of career paralysis when he bounced around from a Polish forest, the Saharan desert, a mock graveyard in Montauk and Tibet.
Not to mention he married, twice, and fathered two children.
Whew! The breadth of his life may sound exhausting, but reading about it decidedly isn't.
Event: A free virtual conversation between Gregory and Christina Baldwin, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18, presented by Rain Taxi. Register at crowdcast.io/e/gregory/register.