What a Night!

ALEX WITCHEL in The New York Times:

IN SPITE OF MYSELF: A Memoir By Christopher Plummer

Plummer Now that Plummer has published “In Spite of Myself: A Memoir,” it is the most welcome of surprises to discover that this actor writes and reports almost as well as he acts. No kidding. To be sure, in his writing he is a bit hammy, often playing fast and loose with time frames, tone and details, not to mention exercising profligate use of exclamation points — the man thinks in soliloquies. But the result for anyone who loves, loves, loves the theater, not to mention the vanished New York of the 1950s and ’60s, is a finely observed, deeply felt (and deeply dishy) time-traveling escape worthy of a long stormy weekend. Just grab a quilt and a stack of pillows. No need for a delectable assortment of bonbons. They’re in the book.

Plummer begins at the beginning. He grows up in Montreal, something of a poor little rich boy, the great-grandson of the Right Honorable Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott, who was president of the Canada Central Railway and the country’s first native-born prime minister.

Plummer’s parents divorce early, and his father disappears. As older relatives die, the money falls away and his mother holds down two jobs while her teenage son, bound up in “a web of good manners and suppressed emotions,” finds release in the worlds of jazz, theater and night life. That also means drinking: “At an embarrassingly early age, I began to hit the sauce. Booze was a national sport up north. It was essential! — (a) to keep you warm, (b) to keep you from going mad, (c) to keep your madness going.”

More here.