Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

August 28, 2011

Summary (from the publisher): A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye.

A teen idol at fifteen, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty, and one of Hollywood’s top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-seventies Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.

The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.

Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.

Liked:

  • This was a surprisingly well-written book — possibly the best I’ve ever read by a celebrity. It’s impressive because Lowe is said to have written this himself without the help of a ghostwriter. Some people apparently doubt this, but I believe it. Why? Because I follow his Twitter feed and I can tell from the way he writes on there that he is quite literate.
  • I loved how Lowe met all these budding stars during his teen years: Chris and Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, and Emilio Estevez were neighbors and pals. Holly Robinson and Dean Cain went to Lowe’s high school. He met Janet Jackson and Sarah Jessica Parker before they hit the big time. Etc. It was just cool to hear how all these lives intersected.
  • Lowe provided some really interesting insight about how The West Wing got off the ground. I wish there had been more details, though.
  • I appreciated that Lowe realizes just how absurd celebrity worship is. He lived it in the early ’80s before the Internet made celeb stalking commonplace. I can’t imagine what his life would have been like if we’d had the Internet back then.
  • This book made me realize that there are a TON of Rob Lowe movies that I haven’t seen yet. I think a trip to the DVD store is in order!

Disliked:

  • I thought he spent way too much time on The Outsiders. Yeah, it was his first major motion picture, but it wasn’t his best work. He barely spent any time talking about St. Elmo’s Fire or About Last Night, both of which truly put him on the global map.
  • This was a highly sanitized version of his partying days. Lowe made it sound like he was just drinking and harmlessly sowing his wild oats with different women. But there was no mention of his heavy drug use or how he cheated constantly on Melissa Gilbert. (Um, calling her an “on-again, off-again” girlfriend doesn’t cut it.) Obviously it’s Lowe’s prerogative not to mention these things (and how many of us would really tell our deepest, darkest secrets?), but readers should know what they’re NOT getting.
  • Similarly, there’s barely a paragraph about the infamous sex tape incident — the first of its kind for a celebrity of that magnitude — and only a throwaway line about one of the participants being 16. No mention of the subsequent trial or any details of the fallout.

Rating:

As I said, I was totally surprised at how good Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe is. It’s not full of dirt and gossip, yet nevertheless is a page-turner that made me long for the good old days of the ’80s. I wasn’t a particularly big Rob Lowe fan back then, but I am now. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

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