The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir

Books on Tape. Oct. 2022. 8:47 hrs. ISBN 9780593627594. $76. MEMOIR
Between 1986 and 1991, actor Newman worked with screenwriter friend Stewart Stern on his memoirs, with nothing off-limits and Stern recording their years-long conversation (along with interviewing Newman’s friends, colleagues, and family). This posthumous memoir was compiled from 14,000 transcribed pages of interviews that sat dormant for decades. Far from a typical Hollywood autobiography, Newman’s memoir is less concerned about his films and more interested in intensive soul-searching to discover why he kept loved ones at a distance for most of his life. The multi-voiced audio production boasts a superb Jeff Daniels doing most of the heavy lifting, narrating the majority of the book as Paul Newman. Daniels captures the world-weariness and fragility of a world class actor who was still plagued with self-doubts, insecurities and alcohol use disorder. Newman’s daughters Melissa Newman and Clea Newman Soderlund read the book’s foreword and afterword. John Rubinstein reads Stern’s contributions, while Ari Fliakos reads other male voices (including directors Sidney Lumet and George Roy Hill), and Emily Wachtel and January LaVoy read the various women in Newman’s life (including Joanne Woodward, Patricia Neal, and Piper Laurie).
VERDICT This gripping and emotionally wrenching memoir is given a top-notch multi-narrator production.
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