Celebrity Memoir Book Club: Diane Keaton's "Then Again"

The real "Annie Hall" on hats, Woody, and bulimia.
Publish date:
January 31, 2012
books, Memoirs, diane keaton, reviews, annie hall

I’ve had my issues with Diane Keaton.

I know what you’re thinking: the trousers-paired-with-a-vest-and-tie? Nope. I LOVE the way she dresses. She is a fashion icon, in my book.

My only beef with DK has always basically boiled down to the “Godfather II,” specifically her Kay Corleone utterance of “…It was an abortion, MICHAEL.” For some reason: the equivalent of liquid Drano to my insides. I cringe every time that scene occurs during my bi-annual viewing of “The Godfather" parts I and II (FUCK III; speaking of an abortion, Michael.).

That's really the only thing I don't love wholeheartedly about Diane Keaton, an amazing woman who has lived an amazing life, who has written an amazing memoir with "Then, Again."

She grew up in Los Angeles with a very kooky family (remember Duane in “Annie Hall,” so eerily portrayed by Christopher Walken? Based on her real brother!). She moved to New York at 19 and studied with Meisner, was in the original production of “Hair” and never took her clothes off, and had amazing love affairs with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino.

Not to mention all the great films she’s in: "The Godfather" trilogy, "Annie Hall," "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," "Manhattan," "Reds," "Baby Boom," "Manhattan Murder Mystery," and yes: "The First Wives Club" and "Something’s Gotta Give."

Besides being Woody Allen’s 70s muse and good friend, she is an Academy Award-winning actress, a sometimes artist, writer, director and designer. Remember that new line we told you about at Bed Bath and Beyond? It’s kind of darling.

The book leaves nothing out, even the fact that she's battled bulimia and been in analysis for over 40 years. She has resolutely never married and adopted two children (Dexter and Duke) in her 50s. The more I read “Then Again,” the more I liked Diane Hall (Keaton was her Mother’s maiden name).

If you can’t love a woman who is the heart and soul of “Baby Boom,” a personal favorite, do you actually have a soul?

No matter. What’s wonderful about “Then Again,” is that it’s also a beautiful goodbye to her mother, Dorothy, who passed away from Alzheimer’s. Interspersed with Diane’s own story are clippings from Dorothy’s journals and collages, as well as Diane’s musings on her mother’s struggles with her fame, a sometimes rocky marriage, and a deep depression due to empty nest syndrome.

I had several a-ha moments reading this memoir. Proceed below for some of my favorites, and read this book. La dee da, la la.

On bulimia“It was breakfast with a dozen buttered corn muffins dipped in Chock Full O’Nuts coffee, plus three orders of fried eggs with bacon, and a side of pancakes topped off with four glasses of chocolate milk. It was lunch to go, including three buttered steaks with salty charbroiled fat on the side, two and half baked potatoes with sour cream and chives, a black-and-white malted with hot apple pie plus two chocolate sundaes with extra nuts. I learned to throw up so fast it had no effect...there was no problem with vomiting or its aftermath. I had it under control. No fuss, no muss.”

On her relationship with Warren Beatty“Drifting back to 1967, I remembered Mom’s home movie of 'Bonnie and Clyde'…starring me, Diane, as Clyde Barrow. I had outright refused to be Bonnie. Hell, no. I didn’t want to be Bonnie. I was going to be Warren Beatty. Who in their right mind, wouldn’t? And that became our central problem. I wanted to be Warren Beatty, not love him.”On Woody Allen“I miss Woody. He would cringe if he knew how much I care about him. I’m smart enough not to broach the subject. I know he’s borderline repulsed by the grotesque nature of my affection…I’ll always be his Lamphead, Monster, Cosmo Piece, his simple-is-as-simple-does housemeat, and Major Oaf. How do I tell 'Uncle Woodums' about my lurve?”On Al Pacino“I didn’t care if it would work or not. I was happy to hear him read Macbeth at midnight, just to listen to the sound of his voice. He was crazy. Crazy great.…He hated goodbyes. He preferred to vanish as mysteriously as he appeared…He liked plain … I hate to say it, but I was not plain. I was too much.”