Diane Keaton, Then Again
Intimate and utterly all-consuming
In the three decades since Diane Keaton seduced America with her sweetly stammering Annie Hall, she’s beguiled a number of “unattainable greats” as well: Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, even Steve Jobs. “Talent is just so damn attractive,” she offers as an organizing principle to her love life. But Then Again, her new memoir, is much more than a catalog of her Hollywood affairs. Though Keaton does disclose fun tidbits about her former paramours (she loved Woody Allen’s body and taught Al Pacino how to drive), the book is less about her romantic life than her family life.
It might be necessary even to qualify the term “memoir.” Then Again requires some hyphenated descriptions: “half-posthumous” perhaps, and maybe even “co-written.” Keaton’s writing partner is Dorothy Hall, her ever-encouraging and optimistic mother, who died in 2008 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. As she pores over decades of her mother’s journals — 85 in all — Keaton comes to know a familiar but still-strange figure: “Mom,” surely, but also a woman of creative temperament and thwarted ambition, a housewife with internal conflicts she never allowed herself to betray, and a darker sense of humor than Keaton ever suspected. “Those pictures are just as I expected — awful.” Dorothy writes in a letter. “Diane looks kind of funny. I’m not going to send them ’cause you’ll think I’ve been kidding you about how cute she is.” Such personal gems aren’t few and far between, either; they’re embedded throughout the book. Part-paean, part-autobiography, Then Again — read by Keaton herself — is intimate but sprightly and utterly all-consuming.