Anjelica Huston played a Royal Tenenbaum on screen, and she was one in real life, too. Like Wes Anderson’s film, her story is filled with quirky, precocious siblings and inappropriate parent-child relationships, all of which makes for a fascinating memoir. A Story Lately Told, the first volume in the Oscar-winning actress’ memoir, follows her from birth to age 22 as she grows up in castles and on lavish estates in Ireland, England, and New York, riding horses competitively while her brother practices falconry. Her father, the director John Huston, spent those early years partying with Marlon Brando, hanging out naked in front of the kids (”He was extremely well endowed,” Anjelica brags), and collecting wives. Anjelica’s ballet-dancer mother, Ricki Soma, was his fourth, after Gone With the Wind star Evelyn Keyes, who forced him to choose between her and the pet monkey that soiled her fancy underwear. (He chose the monkey.) The wildest stories in the book focus on the father, not the daughter — there’s one where a Mexican general draws a .45 on him, and Huston responds by sticking his finger in the barrel.
Anjelica’s more self-indulgent memories feel tame in comparison: She earns her first laughs from her parents by covering her bare bum in powder and declaring, ”I’m Japanese!” Still, her lovely, novelistic writing carries the book, whether she’s sharing a teenage kiss ”between marshmallows” by the bonfire, auditioning for modeling gigs with a girl who’s ”like a wet kitten” in a fur coat, or flying in a 12-seat plane with the Monkees. As a storyteller, she’s having more fun than a monkey in a lingerie drawer. And if she hasn’t mentioned her famous exes yet (Jack Nicholson!), that just means there are more juicy tales to come. A-