Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Changing by Liv Ullman

Copyright 1977, Knopf, Borzoi
Translated by the author, in collaboration with Gerry Bothmer and Erik Friis.
Value at the bottom of page

Preface:  I am a mediocre reader and by no means believe my interpretation is the be-all and end-all.  Anybody may disagree and will most likely be correct.

Liv Ullmann wrote this book in her late 30’s and was then the mother of her tween, Lynn, from her marriage with the famous film director Ingmar Bergman.  The times she lived in and her writing style may account for hopping about on subject matter without dates.  Also, some of the book is written in first person, other parts, third person, or as a note to her daughter or to her ex-husband.  subsequently, I was confused.

She writes with a naiveté’ that belies her age.  Flowery descriptive detail about realities in her life translated to me that she lives in unreality or is trying too hard.  A startling entry was when she wrote about Ingmar having his secrets with their daughter, Lynn, locked in his study.  In those times, and to the author, that seemed cute, but today that doesn’t sound good. 

The last third of the book gets better as I understood each chapter was going to skip about, and you do start seeing some of the real Liv Ullman—her beliefs in women’s equality, her right to her life, struggling with fame and how different America was from Norway.  For example, the materialism and undue praise for her and her daughter’s looks bothered her.  She saw the sycophantic (paraphrasing) behavior of Hollywood as very unhealthy.

The guilt of a working, single mother plagued her.  Also, she seemed to protect Bergman, maybe because she was intimidated and he was very famous.  In all, she’s very careful not to let the reader too far into her life, but as a result, comes across a bit flippant and nonsensical.  Maybe her need for privacy was greater than the commitment she made to being published.  Understandable.  It may have been hard for her, as for many, to say "no" or know about boundaries.  Really, who thought about those things then?

Still, I give this book Ten steps out of 31 to the attic, because she tried to do this even though she lets the reader know that it was at great expense to her peace.  Also, it’s a little window into another time and the upper echelon she was a part of--that’s interesting.

Below: The dust jacket front cover, the front & back of the dust jacket, the book with silver guilded lettering, the back of the dust jacket, the copyright page, and the Borzoi stamp that signaled a quality book by Knopf.

The Borzoi Stamp

When Alfred Knopf founded his company in 1915, he not only wanted to publish the most distinguished writers of the day, he wanted to present their work in the most beautiful edictions possible.
Relentless in his efforts to produce books that would be the envy of every other publisher, Alfred employed the very best in production and design to that each Knopf book would be treasured as much for its handsome design as it was for its thoughtful prose.  He paid special attention to paper stock, typography, layout, bindings, endpapers, topstains, and jackets.  It had to have the borzoi logo and appears on every title page and casing. The stamp is on the back, bottom right corner of the book and is photographed.

Abebooks value on a book of this condition $15 to $30.  I'll take $15, plus $5 shipping, if you're interested.

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