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I’m Thinking of Ending Things


Drew Barrymore is Harley Quinn if Harley Quinn decided she wanted two children and a house filled with pets. After the slog of yesterday's staycation book it was time to breeze through something and Barrymore’s memoir “Wildflower” proved to be a breezy and sometimes funny read.

Her high energy humor aside, there are sharp edges here. She recounts several asshole stunts that will make you cringe, they now make her cringe, but scattered in between these are examples of how different her situation was. Hollywood having thrown her away, there is a memory of her spying on people at the laundromat so she could learn how to wash and dry her clothes. Ruining them she drags the sodden bleach stained mess back to her dump of an apartment, where she was living alone on a diet of take-out meals and cigarettes. Despondent, she recognises that she is a school dropout who does not know how to do anything and for all intents and purposes her career as an actress is over. She was fourteen.

There is a sadness in that chapter that drives her forward in many of the others. She slowly and carefully rebuilds her shattered career, assembles a family of friends, starts reading voraciously and over achievement in cooking and domesticity becomes a driving ambition. I would not be surprised if bedsheets in the Barrymore house are changed three times a week and any meal that comes out of the microwave for dinner is seen as a personal affront.

There is an insight close to the halfway point that to me explains both why she wrote the book and why it is written in the anecdotal non-linear fashion that it is. Barrymore decided that more than anything she wanted to be appropriate. Having been a washed-up child actress; a teenager who ended up in rehab; and a tabloid fodder exhibitionist with a string of male and female lovers, all of that had to go if she wanted to take her life to the next point. Her vagabond father and incapable mother were not appropriate as people or parents, but she makes the choice that she will be.

The clothes stay on, the film roles become more wholesome and the behavior in public becomes more controlled. Her private life becomes private. This book and its presentation are an exercise in not shaming herself to her daughters while explaining the past to them. When they come asking questions they will get a detailed description of the lessons she has learned. With surface level descriptions of the situations she learned those lessons from.

The strategy here is to not let her children get away with any of the things she got away with. Believing she should never have been in those situations in the first place.