Audition: A Memoir
Without reading a single word, you can get the flavor of
AUDITION simply by opening the front or back cover. Instead of a
design, there is a list of the hundreds of notable people who
Barbara Walters has interviewed throughout her years as a broadcast
journalist: emperors, presidents, queens, kings, actors, comedians,
politicians, sports stars, musicians, singers, religious figures,
business leaders and six Kennedys. The roster is as comprehensive
and varied as it is impressive.
In her first book in 38 years, Walters provides a lengthy personal
history, including stories about her mentally challenged sister,
who passed away in 1985 and in whose memory this memoir is
dedicated. Her father, Lou Walters, was the owner and creative mind
behind the legendary Latin Quarter nightclub, and she learned much
from him about taking risks and the effects that such a lifestyle
can have on relationships. There are many family pictures along
with informal photos of her with several of her famous
As a recent fan of “The View,” I was very interested in
reading about the backstage stories --- particularly those
concerning Star Jones and Rosie O’Donnell --- and the hiring
process for the hosts. An extremely popular show, “The
View” was not something Walters initially wanted to get
involved with. At the time she was extremely busy and juggling a
number of projects, so she almost passed up the opportunity. She
even shares her reasons for not divulging much personal information
on the program.
To me, the test of a great autobiography is if you can hear the
author speaking the written words. Walters writes with an enormous
amount of pathos. Remembrances of her family, husbands, lovers and
friends are sincere, and at times brutally honest. “Though
I’ve lived in varying degrees of anxiety throughout the
course of my career, I’ve never really changed my attitude.
I’ve worked as hard or harder than anyone else, accepted
every assignment, done my homework, kept complaints to myself,
finished the job, and moved on. That’s not a bad formula for
success.” Not only does she share her experiences with these
famous figures, she also presents a moving story about one
woman’s life as a legend in her own time.
There are very few people of Walters’s age who still have the
drive and ambition to succeed, the dedication to her profession and
the commitment to excellence she exhibits. She has a knack for
making people open up their lives to us and show their
vulnerability. We can all name at least two or three interviews we
have seen where she asks probing questions, eliciting responses
that surprise and sometimes shock the television audiences tuned
in. We read here some of the details of these conversations, the
revelations and secret moments.
AUDITION comprises more than 50 chapters, each one worth reading.
There are so many stories here, so many opportunities to reveal
information and insights that will thrill us. As readers, we
appreciate Walters’s incredible talents, her ability and
especially her willingness to share.
Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on December 22, 2010