This collection’s excellence rests on Georganne Aldrich’s vast lived experience, which spans 90 years. She co-founded Chuck’s Composite Jazz Club on East 52nd Street in New York City and the fabled Ma Maison restaurant in Beverly Hills; she was a model and a designer; she was married six times, was a Cultural Director for the Borough of Manhattan, a fundraiser for prominent politicians, the producer of theater from Belfast to Broadway, and so much more. Aldrich’s autobiographical stories grow from these adventures and will inspire you to wonder about the different lives you will live, all while relishing how you might live them most passionately.
But the book is also un-put-downable because of how the stories are told. Aldrich’s exceptional eye for off-kilter detail is reminiscent of Grace Paley, Mary Karr, and Lucia Berlin, her brief stories combining pain with humor of the sharpest stripe. We are struck by poetry: An elderly man sat across from another elderly man. I had seen them before. Sitting sipping tea. This poetry grows all the more piquant when a narrator confesses, suddenly she wanted nothing more than to see his tiny Lauren polo ponies go up in smoke. Every sentence feels unexpected, brimming with gravitas and charm: What was fitting for a memorial service after cremation? Apparel that says, I am sad. But I’m also quite available.
We find ourselves lucky eavesdroppers as Aldrich encounters Peter Sellers, Stephane Grapelli, and Shirley MacLaine. She speaks to us of incest, Harvard football, girlhood runaway subway escapes, ill-fated RVs in Malibu Canyon, and fabled movie producers in Rome. The prose is spare, funny, and searing often all at the same time.
After reading this book, you will see the world in a slightly different way. And you will be very glad that Georganne Aldrich, after her nine rich decades, has written it all down.