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Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant

af Jennifer Grant

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The author is the only child of Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon. This portrait is of the relationship between a daughter and her father, one of America's most iconic male movie stars. She writes of their life together through her high school and college years until his death in 1986 at the age of eighty-two.… (mere)
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First, let me state that I was stunned at the intelligence of the author, Cary Grant's daughter. Having worked in Hollywood and seen first hand how shallow and illiterate most of the celebrity offspring are, Jennifer Grant's book is a revelation in its simplicity, elegance, and directness. Rather like her father, in fact.

Reading this book at a time when even lower middle class families raise their daughters as spoiled self-entitled princesses, it's amazing that Jennifer Grant, a child of wealth, turns out the way she does....level-headed and thoughtful. She even references Pavlov during one sentence. Yes, astonishing.

As to the book's subject, yes she discusses papa Cary, but this isn't a mere biography. In fact, she only glances over Mr. Grant's career and childhood, as she is specifically writing about fatherhood and how Cary Grant, quite frankly, hit the ball out of the park (he loved baseball) in raising his only child. Though Jennifer was a product of divorce, she grows up to be a top student (Stanford graduate) who had to learn as a child how to manage money AND work several jobs to pay for her own car. Amazing.

"He combines a vivid sense of beauty with affection for the homely, keen zest for life and adventure with a rare appreciation of the common, universal pleasures, and finds in those simple things of daily life a precious quality, a dignity and a wonder that consecrates them."

The above description was actually about the poet W.H. Davies, but I thought of Cary Grant when reading Davies, as his daughter makes a fine point of emphasizing her father's love of the simple life. In fact, Cary Grant made a point of retiring from movies forever so he could focus on his only child and the result was that he saved almost everything about her childhood, including audio recordings, drawings, and letters. Jennifer Grant uses this treasure trove to focus each chapter, and the reader walks away with a guide to parenthood and life and everything it throws at you.

These were my favorites:

1. Value the middle stuff (not every day is graduation day).

2. Wabi-Sabi (the art of seeing beauty in imperfection).

3. Active silence (preparation for the real world).

4. Sense the apex (there's a natural limit for everything).

5. Jazz is one note from chaos (you may miss the mark, but you're close).

6. Don't get mad at the cookies (chemistry can ruin a friendship).

7. The bread of shame (if you haven't earned what you're given, it can work against you).

Jennifer has a wicked sense of humor and uses it throughout the book to describe film stars ("like Ben & Jerry's ice cream"), herself, her mother Dyan Cannon and her father.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the concept and originality. I walk away with a fuller appreciation of Cary Grant as a man who "chose to celebrate life...instead of expecting life to celebrate him."
( )
1 stem Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
Jennifer did a fantastic job on relaying her life eith her father. I've read other biographies on Cary and this by far is my favorite! I look forward to reading her mother's book in the fall. ( )
  StephNicole0413 | Apr 7, 2013 |
Jennifer Grant writes about her childhood growing up in Hollywood with American movie icon, Cary Gant. Her free-form reminisces flow from anecdotes to story to photo. While relatively unstructured, isn't that how our own memories come to us? Cary came to fatherhood late in life, with his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon. Divorced soon after the birth of his only child, then retired Grant focused almost every waking moment into daily interaction with his beloved daughter. Everything was apparently recorded and lovingly labeled, every scribble and note saved. Jennifer's book includes a remarkable archive of video and audio recording transcripts, photographs and written material. While the writing may be uneven, the deep and demonstrative love they shared is palpable. There are relatively few anecdotes here for the general film aficionado. It will certainly fill in any Cary Grant fan's library. On a larger scale, this intimate slim volume is an appealing reflection on the strength of connection between fathers and daughters. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Mar 21, 2012 |
dnf ( )
  WinonaBaines | Jan 6, 2012 |
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The author is the only child of Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon. This portrait is of the relationship between a daughter and her father, one of America's most iconic male movie stars. She writes of their life together through her high school and college years until his death in 1986 at the age of eighty-two.

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