cover image This Is Not My Memoir

This Is Not My Memoir

André Gregory and Todd London. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-91031-0

In this perceptive, nonlinear memoir, director Gregory, who wrote and starred in My Dinner with Andre, offers anecdotal reflections on his artistic life. Gregory, with London (An Ideal Theater), writes of his Russian Jewish family, who fled Germany for Paris, where he was born in 1934. They then immigrated to the U.S., where his father, a wealthy, cosmopolitan businessman, shuttled the family between New York City and L.A. Gregory recalls the comings and goings of such stars as Gracie Allen, George Burns, and the Marx Brothers in the L.A. house his parents rented from writer Thomas Mann. He attended Harvard University in 1952, then moved to Europe to work in theater. Gregory explains that he learned about directing from his work as part of the Berliner Ensemble (how to take his time directing and to be clear and simple in his work) and chronicles his influences both theatrical (Samuel Beckett, Bertold Brecht, and Jerzy Grotowski) and spiritual (he traveled to Tibet to visit a Buddhist monk). But it’s his reflections on his 1981 film My Dinner with Andre that standout, as when he discusses his work with director Louis Malle and costar and cowriter Wallace Shawn (“Some believe in the miraculous, and others simply don’t,” he writes about the characters. “There is an Andre who believes and a Wally who never will”). Film lovers and theatergoers will delight in Gregory’s reminiscences. (July)