Choking on Marlon Brando
Antonia Quirke
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Buy *Choking on Marlon Brando* by Antonia Quirke online

Choking on Marlon Brando
Antonia Quirke
310 pages
July 2007
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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For Antonia Quirke, her early and continued love of movies is a two-sided coin. Heads: it has given her a career in writing. Tails: it has unrealistically skewed her expectations of personal relationships in the brick-and-mortar world.

Never showing up for classes and stealing textbooks, Quirke failed in getting a degree. An English tutor got her a work placement on a local newspaper. Her journalism wasn't great, but her knowledge of movies was extensive. She fell into the role of film critic.

Much of her writing is about movies' leading men. She describes their faces as if seen by the fingertips of a blind person - extremely detailed, extremely personal. Just as we discover an author and proceed to read everything by that author, Quirke gets hooked on an actor and watches all his films until she, sidetracked by another actor in one of those films, veers off on another tangent. Her roadmap through this "author tracking" is like a maniacal game of “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” This is definitely a romp for movie buffs!

Interspersed with her commentary on films and their leading men is a chronology of her love life. She learns about love through movies and through ill-chosen personal relationships with bizarre characters. She remembers her first breakup : "You don't leave them for anyone, you leave them for everyone, and it was as messy as hell." When love makes her unhappy, she loses herself in movies. She keeps holding out hope that life is indeed like the movies, "that all you have to do is trust to luck and love will come."

Quirke delineates the role of a film critic as not to praise everything that comes your way, but not to trash it all, either (though she admits to the urge for vengence when she feels a film has “wasted her time"). She sees her job as being "to encourage artists, to help and not hinder... and not to burn out." Alas, she is burning out.

Basically I like this book, and I'm sure it will be enjoyed even more by readers closer to Quirke's generation. It is always amusing when a young person writes their memoirs. Have they lived enough of life to justify memoirs?

These are the musings of a superficial young woman who has come to realize that the movies aren't everything, but I'm not sure she's found a new direction yet. Where do you go after you've written your memoirs?

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Midge Bork, 2007

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