Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek with Maryanne Vollers

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In her delightful and moving memoir, Sissy Spacek writes about her idyllic, barefoot childhood in a small East Texas town, with the clarity and wisdom that comes from never losing sight of her roots. Descended from industrious Czech immigrants and threadbare southern gentility, she grew up a tomboy, tagging along with two older brothers and absorbing grace and grit from her remarkable parents, who taught her that she could do anything. She also learned fearlessness in the wake of a family tragedy, the grief propelling her "like rocket fuel" to follow her dreams of becoming a performer.
With a keen sense of humor and a big-hearted voice, she describes how she arrived in New York City one star-struck summer as a seventeen-year-old carrying a suitcase and two guitars; and how she built a career that has spanned four decades with films such as Carrie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, 3 Women, and The Help. She details working with some of the great directors of our time, including Terrence Malick, Robert Altman, David Lynch, and Brian De Palma—who thought of her as a no-talent set decorator until he cast her as the lead in Carrie. She also reveals why, at the height of her fame, she and her family moved away from Los Angeles to a farm in rural Virginia.
Whether she’s describing the terrors and joys of raising two talented, independent daughters, taking readers behind the scenes on Oscar night, or meditating on the thrill of watching a pair of otters frolicking in her pond, Sissy Spacek’s memoir is poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, plainspoken and utterly honest. My Extraordinary Ordinary Life is about what matters most: the exquisite worth of ordinary things, the simple pleasures of home and family, and the honest job of being right with the world. "If I get hit by a truck tomorrow," she writes, "I want to know I’ve returned my neighbor’s cake pan."

My thoughts:
I listened to this audio book over the course of a couple days.  It was a very gentle read and focused a lot more on family than on the movie aspect of Spacek's life.  She spent long periods reminiscing about growing up in a small town in Texas with two brothers, of walking barefoot in the grass and exploring the courthouse, and of the tragedy that befell her family when she was young.  She is honest about how her dreams of being a musician didn't quite work out the way she thought they would and about being a new actor and having to earn her way into parts.  You can hear the love she has for her husband and daughters in her voice and in how proud she is of what they have all accomplished.  I think having Spacek do her own reading really added to the book because it felt like you were sitting down in a room with her and having her tell you her all about herself.  It feels like an intimate conversation at a party. One of the reviews I saw online complained that the book was too slow a read, but I think part of the slowness is deliberate to bring about the feelings of a time gone by when people were not as obsessed with moving fast and doing so much at the same time.  A time before cell phones and texting and computers everywhere.  I enjoyed the book especially in its audio format.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401324360
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 288


  1. I'm excited to listen to this one. I have this and Bossypants waiting for me!

  2. I am a huge Sissy Spacek fan so this will be going on my wishlist. I love her voice! It is so calming!