To quote an old editor here, upon his describing some truly awful work of art: “I wouldn’t have watched that with your eyes.” Well, PopWatchers, that’s how I felt about reading Lynne Spears’ new book, Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.
This book’s subtitle implies that it is a tell-all, and it’s anything but: Anyone who’s conversant with Wikipedia can learn as much or more about the beleaguered pop star, true or no. In Through the Storm, Lynne tells us a good deal about her non-famous relatives – her beloved sister Sandra, her British mother Lillian, and Lynne’s husband/Britney’s father, Jamie (described by Lynne as an alcoholic who drags a would-be happy Southern family down the road to dysfunction). But for the most part, the book serves as Lynne’s defense brief – how it was Britney who chose this life for herself, and how Lynne was only trying to be a supportive mom and do the right thing.
After the jump, photographic proof that I not only read every word of the book – all 30 chapters of it – underlining choice graphs and carefully annotated important passages (NB: “barf,” pictured, pg 193). To make it even easier on you, I’ve painstakingly pulled quotes that illustrate what the chapter is about (or just strike me as, y’know, ridiculous). I’m running it in two parts, so come back tomorrow to see how it all turns out. Though chances are you know this already.
Introduction: “If you’re looking for parenting advice, you’veopened the wrong book.” – Um, I’m not looking for parenting advice, but Iclosed the book anyway. When I dropped it while convulsing withlaughter, that is.
1. From Here to There: “I wanted to be in denial, but I couldn’tdeny the video footage unfolding in front of me. It was Britney, andshe was shaving off her beautiful hair. All I could think of was, How could this be? She used tobe the happiest girl in the world. – Itals hers, tho I’m not sure why. And, hey, thanks for the spoiler, Lynne!
2. Kentwood: [where Britney was raised, and where the Spears clanstill lives]. “There were moccasins and rattlesnakes galore, but do youthink my parents ever told us to wear shoes? Huck Finn had nothing onus.” – But you, Lynne, have everything on Mark Twain.
3. Good-Looking Southern Man: [Lynne meets and marries Jamie Spears]”I had agreed to go see Elton John in concert with [Jamie] in NewOrleans. Of course, Elton John was and is my favorite singer…” – Um, wrong answer, Lynne. Go read some Dr. Spock, and come back when you’ve learned who your favorite singer is.
4. Close Call: I’ll just summarize this one for you, because it’s kind of horrifying, and materializes out of nowhere: En route tothe ER with her brother after a farming incident, Lynne accidentallyhits and kills a young boy on his bike. She devotes two short graphs toit, then moves on to how she is still protecting her own son, Bryan, tothis day. Like he was the one who died. It’s just – bizarre. Moving on…
5. Wrecking Balls: “Little did I know that two wrecking balls wereon their way to crash through my perfect life; a tragedy that wouldinstantly alter me for the rest of my life…” -- Nice metaphor! ThoughI think I prefer, from the introduction, “…the story of a simple Southern woman whose familygot caught in a tornado called fame…” It’s more swishy.
6. Sweet and Bitter: “Britney Jean Spears was born on December 2,1981, after twenty-one hours of labor (but who’s counting?). – Hey,that’s the time I spent on this book! (Joking, people, joking. Though I do feel as if I’ve given birth to eight different neurotic disorders.)
7. Witnessing a Miracle: Nothing really to quote here, so in summary, Bryan gets sick and has to be airlifted to a hospital in New Orleans. He survives. Mama is happy. End of scene.
8. Friendships: “In a small town, people know all your business –as if the whole world doesn’t know my business anyway!” – Which is whyyou’ve written this book, of course.
9. The Other Woman: “It was just that kind of social drinking thatended up pulling Jamie and all of us beneath that undertow ofalcoholism again.” – More metaphors, this time water-related. But where’s “career on therocks,” “washed up,” etc?
10. Britney Starts Singing: [Lynne writes a poem to a young Britney]”Sometimes when I see / The sparkle in her eye / It makes me sad / Iwant to cry / Cruel world turn away / Spare my Little Star / Let herwit and charming beauty / Go very far.” - Now, if only Britney put this to a Timbaland beat and opened it with, ‘It’s my moms, bitch!,’ she’d have another hit single.
11. Here Comes Jamie Lynn: “Nine months earlier, we got the shock ofour lives when I found out I was expecting our third child….Jamie’svasectomy underscored this notion considerably. Turns out he never wentfor that all-important follow-up appointment!” – I never thought Iwould say this while reading a celebrity memoir, but T.M.I., yo.
12. Teaching: “Teaching was perfect for me. One of the great regretsof my life is quitting in 2000 to go on tour with Britney.” – cf chapter 3, Dr. Spock.
13. Why Did I Say Yes? [to Britney’s career]: “Maybe this would be agood time to mention that I have never been a manager for either of thegirls, although I was paid for a time to work on Britney’s fan club andweb site.” Well, they do say that motherhood is the toughest job of all.
14. Mama: This chapter is kind of sad, so I’ll keep the snark at bay:Lynne’s mother/Britney’s grandmother dies while Mama Spears, Brit andJamie Lynn are in New York as Brit does the audition circuit. But we dolearn that Lynn Harliss, Justin Timberlake’s mom, lends them money tofly home for the funeral. Lynne says of Justin, “…to me, he will always be that cute, sweet kid from our Mickey Mouse Club days.”
15. Mouseketeer Days: “In the end, I would not put a cage around that bird.” Obviously someone’s been catching up on her Maya Angelou.
We’re halfway though, class! Check back tomorrow for the second halfof the syllabus, including lots of Sam Lufti material, and tidbits from Jamie Lynn’s Turn, “Mama, I’mPregnant,” and A Mother’s Heart…
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