Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Unreachable Star: My Unauthorized Travels with Patti LuPone, by Maile Hernandez

Book 28

I was saying last month that after hooking up with Maile on Facebook, I started reading her blog.  What I didn't say was that I hadn't read her book.  This is because the premise sort of spooked me.  Over something like an 18-month period in 2006 and 2007, Maile developed a "fascination - at times star-struck enthrallment" with Broadway performer Patti LuPone.  She travelled around the country, spending tons of money to see LuPone perform.  She wrote fan letters. She bought flowers and other gifts.  It seemed a bit too stalker-y to me and I, perhaps, didn't really want to know that side of her.

Since the deaths of her husband, Conrad, and son, Max, she has been blogging regularly.  Extremely raw and personal entries that feel exactly like reading a private journal.  How utterly ridiculous for me to not have read her book.  And I am so glad that I did, because this is the best I am ever going to know Conrad.  And it was Conrad who put the fandom into perspective for me:

“You’ve seen how many of Patti’s shows, twelve? You’ve hardly ever talked to her. You’ve written fan letters, to an e-mail address that she set up, for that purpose. You’ve never remotely threatened her. You’ve never talked about weird sexual fantasies in your letters to her. You’ve never gone to her hotel room, or asked to go to her hotel room. You’ve never asked her to go to your hotel room. You’ve never called her up or called her people up, asking to talk to her, or gone to her house. Have you ever even contemplated doing any of those things?”

No.  Of course not. 

Over the course of the book, Maile began performing again.  And then she began writing in earnest.  And her stories of those struggles and triumphs, along with her stories of Max beginning to come out of his shell..are just like reading her blog.  I loved it.

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