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Heart of Glass: A Memoir


Heart of Glass: A Memoir

In a memoir that begins with police knocking on the door of her seedy digs and ends happily ever after, actress and author (CHANEL BONFIRE) Wendy Lawless rings all the lifestyle changes, from bohemian to the big time.

Indifferently, some would say barely, raised by a mother who rivaled Mommie Dearest for worst ever and a father who, though caring, had an acting career to cosset, Lawless finds herself in her late 20s, in the 1980s, adrift in Manhattan’s murky maze of subcultures. Having run away to go to college in the city, she soon realizes that hanging on there will not be easy, and there’s no safety net. Lawless moves from tiny, dirty apartments to couches and spare rooms in the homes of friends, to a few nights’ kips with men she has just met. Some of them just want her for “arm candy,” some are gay, and a few are downright rotten. She keeps trying to get work as an actress, the one role in life that makes sense to her, but is not above taking jobs in department stores, offices, or behind the scenes in the theater as a reader at auditions or the person who keeps a fellow actor sober enough to make it onstage on cue. She meets, then loses, the man of her dreams.

"HEART OF GLASS is deftly designed, vividly frank and often very funny, though the situations Lawless describes are not always the usual stuff of humor."

Meanwhile, Lawless must fend off aggressive, vituperative calls from her life-hating mother. She then has an abortion. Depressed and utterly confused, she drops out of college and finally starts seeing a therapist who tells her she needs to say “no” to predatory men and hang up on her mother. Following this advice, she gradually regains control of her destiny.

HEART OF GLASS is deftly designed, vividly frank and often very funny, though the situations Lawless describes are not always the usual stuff of humor. She lands a summer acting job in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in a play about drought during the rainy season with water pouring in under the sets. She has a short-lived liaison that begins with a game made up for the occasion: Strip Bongos. She disinvites herself to an orgy. She tries cocaine at a party just to be polite, and ends up as the object of someone else’s near-fatal paranoid fantasy while she herself seems to feel not even a buzz. She plays a man in a production of “The Marriage of Figaro” acted entirely on roller skates. 

It’s impossible to read about Lawless’ earnestly misspent youth without feeling a slight touch of vertigo from all the ups, downs, twists and turns. But her book concludes with a happy truth: there is light even at the end of the darkest, weirdest tunnel, and she has found it.

Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott on March 15, 2016

Heart of Glass: A Memoir
by Wendy Lawless

  • Publication Date: October 11, 2016
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1476749833
  • ISBN-13: 9781476749839