In 1997, Fleetwood Mac recorded a reunion show. It had been decades since Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks broke up, but Nicks made it clear there was unfinished business in the air. Midway through the song
Silver Spring, Nicks – everybody's favorite messy witch who lives for drama– turned to face Buckingham, and, as Brittany Spanos explained in , "The pair locked eyes, and Nicks gradually built to a cathartic howl – Rolling Stone “I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you/You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you." Ahead, some suggestions for celebrity memoirs as cathartic howls. From ballerinas, to actors, and punk royalty, these women survived bad (and really, really bad) relationships. They survived, thrived, and – lucky for us – chose to tell the tale.
Carrie Fisher was a true original. She was the daughter of Hollywood royalty who grew into her own as a brilliant screenwriter, actress, and author. She was frank about
everything: fame, bi-polar disorder, drug and alcohol dependecy and, of course, her romantic relationships. I love Carrie, can you tell? Someone else who loved — and then lost — Carrie was Paul Simon. In Wishful Drinking she describes their turbulent relationship. They married in 1983, got divorced a year later, and then kept dating. Simon wrote two songs about Carrie, but she got the last word on the relationship, writing: “We were together for more than 12 years (off and on) and we traveled a lot. The last place we went to was the Amazon, which I recommend if you like mosquitoes.” More
It was the aughts: low rise jeans and trucker hats were in, the Motorola Razr was the hottest digital accessory, and Demi Moore was back in the spotlight, starring in the sequel to
. After an amicable divorce from Bruce Willis, Demi was 41 when she met a 25-year-old Ashton Kutcher. They married two years later.
In her memoir,
, Demi doesn't hold back about the troubles in her relationship with Kutcher, who had multiple affairs, belittled Demi's many years of sobriety, and was distant as she suffered a series of fertility setbacks. They divorced in 2011. In the memoir, co-written by
, Moore contextualizes her own role in the toxic romance, explaining that in the end, it helped her grow and reconnect with her family.
More Dancing on my Grave is Gelsey Kirkland's brutally honest account of her life as one of the world's most famous ballerinas. She had a celebrated partnership with lover and fellow dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov that ended as she spiraled into drug abuse, despair, mental illness, and disordered eating. The daughter of an abusive father, Kirkland studied under the legendary George Balanchine and while her teacher would send her on to fame and fortune, he was also physically and emotionally abusive. This book is beautiful and painful spares nobody — least of all Kirkland. More
Most people remember Holly Madison as Hugh Hefner's ditzy "main" girlfriend on Bravo's
The Girls Next Door
. But Madison wasn't content to let that show, and Hefner, be her only legacy. So she wrote this scalding hot tea-spilling memoir to set the record straight.
Down the Rabbit Hole
reveals Madison to be a smart, savvy survivor. Her descriptions of life in the Playboy mansion are darkly funny (nobody should go near those carpets), and her takedown of Hef as a manipulative, out-of-touch narcissist was years in the coming. Holly's major shortcoming seems to be her taste in partners. When she moved on from Hef she begins dating (ugh I can barely say it)
, who is somehow more deluded about his self-worth than even Hugh Hefner. It doesn't end well. But,
in the words of Rickey Thompson:
You cannot keep a bad bitch down. You just cannot do that! And Holly rises above.
In her second memoir,
Surpassing Certainty, Janet Mock discusses her teen years in Hawaii as a girl working nights as a dancer at a strip club, and dreaming of becoming a writer. There, she meets her first love, Troy, and begins making her way through the world as a trans woman of color. Her relationship is rocky and it takes years for Mock to disentangle fully from Troy, but she uses the pain of the experience to advocate for others and find success for herself — professionally and personally. More
I read this book at my desk (for work!) in about six hours, tearing through Simpson's account of her life. Trying to find success as a child actress she eventually meets notoriously shitty man music exec,
, who promises her a career as as singer if she can lose 15 lbs (she weighs 110 at the time). Thus begins a journey through fame, fortune and the shittiest men ever.
, Simpson gives every detail of her marriage and contentious divorce from Nick Lachey, her
incredibly stormy romance with John Mayer
, and her distancing from her manager/father, Joe. In the end, Simpson is a performer and entrepreneur worth nearly a billion dollars, and is a sober, happily married wife and mom. I'm going to be honest — I didn't think I cared about Jessica Simpson. Now I want her to win the National Book Award.
If you are of a certain age (and even if you aren't) Kim Gordon is the coolest girl in the world. Her memoir,
Girl In A Band, takes us from her early years in Rochester, NY, to her California adolescence, and finally to the gritty downtown streets of 1980s New York City. This is where she forms legendary noise band Sonic Youth with Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and her eventual husband, Thurston Moore. The book isn't chatty and it doesn't hold back. She discusses how much she cared for a sensitive Kurt Cobain (and disliked his wife, Courtney Love) but she reserves her real ire for Moore, who, after 27 years of marriage and professional partnership has an affair. She's clear she can't forgive him and they divorce. But her love for her daughter, Coco, her passion for art and music, and her effortless cool shine through. More
Mary-Louise Parker wrote her epistolary memoir,
Dear Mr. You, as 34 brief letters to various men she has known in her life. The result is a sweet, candid book that feels true to Parker's soul. Parker was famously 7-months-pregnant when her partner, Billy Crudup, left her for Claire Danes, and while she doesn't name names in the book, she does give you insight into her heartbreak. In one section, "Dear Mr. Cabdriver", she writes “I am alone. Look, see? I am pregnant and alone. It hurts to even breathe.” But the book is a triumph — whimsical, sensitive, and candid. In fact, it's a lot like Parker herself. More
Known to many as the sex-crazed senior, Blanche Deveraux, on
Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan began acting (and getting married) in the late '60s. Her memoir, My First Five Husbands... is as irreverent as you might expect from the title. McClanahan is an eternal optimist: She undergoes an abortion in Tijuana, breast cancer, and, yes, has five marriages (some FAR worse than others) and ends on an up-note — wed to Husband Number 6, and with a rich and rewarding career. More
Sally Field has played roles as diverse as teenage surfer Gidget, to union organizer Norma Rae. In her memoir
, she discusses her career and her turbulent personal life, which includes being sexually abused by her stepfather, undergoing an illegal abortion at 17, and the day-to-day indignities of working in a male-dominated industry, which include being forced to kiss director Bob Rafelson to secure a film role.
The book will be a part of the #MeToo canon, is for survivors of sexual assault and abuse, and is also a deeply personal account of Fields' life, particularly her marriage to
Smokey and The Bandit
costar, Burt Reynolds, who she describes as controlling and distant. In the lead up to publication, she told the
New York Times
that her relationship with Reynolds was "confusing and complicated, and not without loving and caring, but really complicated and hurtful to me.”
is a tough but compelling (and necessary) read.
Tiffany Haddish's memoir,
The Last Black Unicorn
, is as honest and funny as the actress herself. And that's saying something, considering that she details a childhood spent in foster care and her mother's tragic death.
But there was one part Haddish found she couldn't make funny: a violent marriage. In the end, she chose to include that dark period of her life, hoping that, like many other parts of her story it would provide inspiration to others.
, "I hope a little girl or little boy reads this and be like, 'My life is hard, but it ain't that hard. If she could survive that, I could survive anything.'
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