cover image Miss Aluminum: A Memoir

Miss Aluminum: A Memoir

Susanna Moore. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-27971-4

Novelist Moore (My Old Objects) recounts drifting aimlessly through young adulthood after her mother’s death in this affecting coming-of-age story. Moore’s mother mysteriously died in her sleep when the author was 12; Moore, raised near Honolulu by a handsome, self-absorbed physician father, led a privileged life but was emotionally abused by her cruel stepmother. She befriended a wealthy neighbor, Ale Kaiser, and their friendship continued after a rebellious 17-year-old Moore was sent to live in Philadelphia in 1963. Moore impulsively changed careers and cities— “I had no sense of a future.... My mother’s death had deprived me of the ability to think more than a few weeks ahead.” She began working as a model, and in 1966 she was hired by fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who later raped her, then gave her a role in a movie he was working on called The Ambushers; to protect herself from Cassini she became the mistress of the film’s associate producer. While living in late 1960s Los Angeles, she thrived and befriended Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and writer Joan Didion. In reflecting on her mother’s madness, she realizes, “I no longer thought I was like her, too fragile, too crazy to survive.” Moore’s search for stability during a free-spirited decade is a whirlwind of celebrity encounters and a lyrical exploration of the lingering effects of a mother’s death. (Apr.)