I’m a little too old to have seen most of Mara Wilson’s movies. I’ve seen Mrs. Doubtfire but I certainly didn’t see a Thomas the Train Engine movie and while I probably would have like Matilda when I was younger, it came out when I was in high school so I was not the target audience. I have come across Mara Wilson’s essays in other publications and thought they were pretty good so when I saw she had written a memoir, I thought I’d check it out. It has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while but I recently started going back to the public library (although so far the staff, for the most part, has been exceedingly dim and I miss the staff and libraries I grew up with) and I have been slowly working my way through my wishlist and requesting them online. Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame was available right way to download on my Kindle so I read it this morning.
It was really more of a collection of autobiographical essays than a straight memoir. Which was fine, she is a good writer and storyteller and while they were not chronological, they made sense and didn’t skip around (I’m looking at you, Give a Girl A Knife) in a bizarre way. We learn about her early days as a child actor (although not too much about why she wanted to act exactly–her brother had done some commercials so she did some too and that lead to movie roles but I wondered how her family got into acting in the first place) and it was fun reading what it was like on set for a child on things like Melrose Place. She is very good at writing about things that could easily become maudlin like her mother’s death during the post production of Matilda, her OCD and intense anxiety and her co-star Robin Williams suicide. She doesn’t make light of them but they don’t get too bogged down in sentiment either. She also talks quite a bit about leaving acting during puberty after transitioning from cute kid to attractive but not a knockout adolescence and even talks briefly about some other stars she encountered that were in the business and stayed in it. She managed to stay performing in some way first in the surprisingly cut-throat world of show choir (??!!?) and then as one of those confessional stand-up essayists. The book is well worth a look if you were a Mara Wilson fan, are interested in former child actors or just really enjoy autobiographical essays.