Thursday, November 22, 2012

Charmed Lives: A Family Romance

1979, possibly first edition, from Random House
Michael Korda
Charmed Lives: A Family Romance
Original and purchase price unknown
Hardcover with bent pages

The lives of the title are those of film producer-director Alexander Korda and his brothers, Zoli and Vincent, the latter Michael's father.  Michael grew up on the edges of their glamorous, eccentric world, idolizing Uncle Alex and then having to find his own path when Alex died.  Michael did fine in his own right, becoming a major publisher with Simon & Schuster.  (And yet it's Random House that published this memoir.)  Michael's only son Chris continues the family's fame/notoriety as "leader of the Church of Euthanasia, techno musician and software developer."

While the Kordas are an interesting family, they don't always come across as likable, or even as impressive as Michael K. thinks, or at least thought as a hero-worshiping young man.  Vincent seems to have been the nicest, which admittedly is like Harpo being the nicest Marx brother.  I almost gave the book a C+ because I was getting tired of Michael's crush on his "Aunt Alexa," Alex's younger by almost four decades wife.  Also, the timeline gets very muddled during the Alexa years, so that during the pivotal summer that Michael meets Alexa, I have no idea if it's 1948, when Michael is 14, or '52, when Michael is 18.  Luckily, revolution breaks out in the Kordas' native land of Hungary the same year Alex dies, so the book gets interesting again.

I think I originally got this book because Alexander Korda's second wife was actress Merle Oberon, whom I had a minor interest in.  Unfortunately, she's not in it much.

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