No Lifeguard on Duty
Janice Dickinson
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buy *No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel* online No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel
Janice Dickinson
400 pages
September 2003
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Books written by famous people often have an air of phoniness to them, as if to say, “Sure, this book is about me, but I don’t want to let you know too much about my life.” Say what you want about Janice Dickinson, she doesn’t hold back. The Florida native -- a model and photographer whose work on both sides of the camera has graced the covers of most of the major magazines in the world – has written a pretty candid book about her tumultuous life.

Curled Up With a Good BookFrom her deeply troubled her relationship with her parents (her father beat her and sexually abused her older sister, as her mother stood by doing next to nothing to help her children) to her many problematic romantic relationships (she’s been married three times, and, it seems, dated half the heterosexual men in the fashion and entertainment industries) to her early struggle to succeed as a model and her battles with drugs and alcohol, Dickinson’s life has been packed with drama.

Dickinson left home in her teens to pursue a modeling career and found doors slammed in her face, because she was an exotic brunette at a time when all-American blondes were the rage. However, her persistence and drop-dead beauty won out and she went on to become a huge success, particularly overseas.

No Lifeguard on Duty charts her journey to the top, and the problems she encountered both along the way and after she attained success. It’s fairly typical celeb-bio stuff. The thing that makes it interesting is Dickinson’s complete candor. It’s no wonder so many of the people she encounters seem so enchanted with her. She has no fear of speaking her mind. Her reflections on the past are littered with profanity, pointed observations about herself and others and even humor.

Best of all, she doesn’t feel the need to depict herself as a martyr or saint. Dickinson knows she’s made some mistakes in her life and, while many of them are connected to the abuse she suffered as a child, she acknowledges that a lot of her pain comes from an inability to properly confront her past. Her ability to look back on her mistakes with fairly clear eyes lends her memoir a certain depth.

It’s not too deep, however. It still has many of the features of a typical Hollywood autobiography – name-dropping, detailed depictions of glorious decadent fun in Europe and domestically. But at least you can tell that Dickinson really is trying to examine her life and change it for the better. And that is truly refreshing.

© 2002 by Amanda Cuda for Curled Up With a Good Book

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