Pros: Original, darkly humorous, straightforward, mischievous, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny
Cons: Didn’t notice a one!
Rating: 5 out of 5
It isn’t often that I read memoir. The only reason I took any interest in the genre whatsoever originally is that my amazing ‘Style & Voice’ writing teacher also taught a memoir class, and she was so good I would have taken anything she taught. She had a fondness for such amazing writers as Maya Angelou, Colette, and so on, and that was enough to teach me that there were some truly enjoyable memoirs out there. Still, I don’t read them very often, because the ones that move the reader to laughter and tears aren’t nearly as common as the ones that are just okay.
Emmett James’s Admit One is an absolutely delightful read.
Emmett starts with his youth in Croydon, South London. Each chapter is wrapped in the context of a movie that in some way impacted his life. Thinking at once of all the ways in which this could become a too-cute and ultimately annoying trick, I was delighted when the book deviated immediately from the expected. When Emmett saw the first movie he used to frame a chapter, Disney’s The Jungle Book, he was so young that he fell asleep within minutes, and saw only the beginning and end credits. Yet the experience of going to the movies with his family, and the effects it had on his mother and brother, profoundly affected him.
Emmett James’s journey from British schoolboy hellion to American actor is filled with side-trips, unexpected excursions, and surprising admissions. He’s faked his way into fancy parties; scared the daylights out of a famous American director; been tricked into faking up a picture of Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley’s wedding. Despite being prone to roguish tricks of his own, he was so eager for acting work that the call of an agent was all it took to bring back the childlike naif, and so it was that he frequently found himself on one set or another, quite surprised to find out what he’d gotten himself into. Like the fake-boob-filled bikini boxing ring scene, or the soft porn movie about lap dancing.
Yet finally he was doing what he loved, even if it wasn’t always easy. He appeared in Titanic of all movies. He got a series, even though the company producing it eventually went belly-up. He was living his dream.
When I finished Admit One I was surprised to note that it was put out by a publisher I’d never heard of before. It had been such a fun read, so filled with quotable quotes, that I fully expected it to be an offering from a big-name group. Well, their loss. Emmett writes with a tone that can shift from wryly humorous to childlike delight, self-deprecation to sly jabs in an instant. I was hard put to keep from constantly laughing out loud and reading selections to everyone around me (sorry Kathy—hope I didn’t annoy you too much!). But really, can you say you wouldn’t do the same?
For me, although fast becoming an illegal immigrant, the sun now shone just that little bit brighter and with more hope, beginning my new day a full-fledged member of the Screen Actors Guild, my rite of passage now earned…
At a time when folks are getting burned out on tragic memoirs, Emmett takes both the good and the bad in his life and mines them for sharp, witty humor instead. It’s exactly the breath of fresh air we need.