cover image I'm Wild Again: Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts

I'm Wild Again: Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts

Helen Gurley Brown / Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (318p) I

Never shedding the ""Cosmo Girl"" identity she created and perfected over 32 years as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, the redoubtable Brown muses over her life, career and philosophy. Relentlessly candid, she reveals a difficult childhood: her mother was a depressed young widow, and her older sister contracted polio before the vaccine was developed. Brown was a veteran of 17 secretarial jobs before writing the provocative bestseller Sex and the Single Girl. She also reveals a brief stint at being kept (""keptive"") by a married man, and an affair with boxing great Jack Dempsey, among other romances. Brown's self-portrait as stingy and demanding is in sharp contrast to that of her husband of 40 years, movie producer David Brown, whom she paints as a dapper, generous genius. A good portion of her memoir is given over to Brown's relentless quest for a youthful appearance, which may trouble some readers. She's probably kidding when she calls exfoliating dead skin one of life's pleasures, but she is deadly honest about her diet (""skinny is sacred to me""), exercise regimen (two 45-minute sessions seven days a week, even now), breast augmentation, and battle with thin hair. She's equally open about having had a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Brown, who transformed Cosmo into a powerhouse, is a publicity pro who can still charm (though replaced in the editor's chair at age 74, she is still editor-in-chief of the international editions). Whether playfully describing a man as ""wife-encumbered"" or fretting over a ""poochy tummy,"" Brown's voice is uniquely hers, although the book feels padded and repetitious. Overall, to use one of Brown's favorite words, it's only ""pippypoo."" 16-page photo insert not seen by PW. (Feb.)