cover image Brat: An ’80s Story

Brat: An ’80s Story

Andrew McCarthy. Grand Central, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5387-5427-6

The star of seminal 1980s coming-of-age movies St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink looks back on a decade that was more angsty for him than for his characters in this heartfelt memoir. Actor McCarthy (The Longest Way Home) revisits many raucous showbiz indignities—“my first day on the set of a feature film was spent in bra and panties”—and delves into the gnawing anxieties behind his heart-throb exterior: a sullen aloofness that masked his fear at auditions; spiraling alcoholism; loneliness in an L.A., where he “felt exposed and vulnerable on the deserted streets”; alienation on the coked-up set of Less Than Zero, where “the mood on the shoot turned from dark to nefarious” with a script “full of hate and self-degradation.” McCarthy writes evocatively of his insecurities and dysfunctions—“I felt as if I existed behind a layer of opaque plexiglass... which would only clear when I took a drink”—but also of the high points when he felt “the simple joy at being there, at being alive and young” in front of the camera. McCarthy is clear-eyed and unsparing about Hollywood but takes the emotional intensity of the actor’s craft and life seriously. The result is a riveting portrait of the artist as a young man. Photos. (May)