REVIEW: It’s Always Something by Gilda Radner

Title: It’s Always Something
Author: Gilda Radner
Year of Publication: 1989
Genre: Memoir
Format: Hardcover
Length: 269 pages
First Line: “Like in the romantic fairy tales I always loved, Gene Wilder and I were married by the mayor of a small village in the south of France, September 18, 1984.”

Summary: The world fondly remembers the many faces of Gilda Radner: the adamant but misinformed Emily Litella; the hyperkinetic Girl Scout Judy Miller; the irrepressibly nerdy Lisa Loopner; the gross-out queen of local network news, Rosanne Rosannadanna. A supremely funny performer, Gilda lost a long and painful struggle in May 1989 to “the most unfunny thing in the world”–cancer. But the face she showed the world during this dark time was one of great courage and hope. It’s Always Something is the story of her struggle told in Gilda’s own remarkable words–a personal chronicle of strength and indomitable spirit and love undiminished by the cruel ravages of disease.

This is Gilda, with whom we laughed on Saturday Night Live: warm, big-hearted, outrageous, and real. This is Gilda’s last gift to us: the magnificent final performance of an incomparable entertainer whose life, though tragically brief, enriched our own lives beyond measure.

Review: It’s Always Something is Gilda Radner’s only book that she wrote while battling with ovarian cancer in the mid-late 1980s before she succumbed to the disease and died in May 1989. The book chronicles her beginning stages of married life with husband Gene Wilder (famous for movies like Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles), finding out she had ovarian cancer, battling the cancer with various methods and doctors (some methods and are questionable to their legitimacy). The title, It’s Always Something was a phrase her father would often say. Radner’s father died of a brain tumor when she was only 12 years old.

I have to say the Radner was honest and raw when she wrote this book. She didn’t hide very much from us. She had constant (really, constant) mood swings, threw horrible temper tantrums, was heavily depressed and not leave her bedroom or eat for days, become jealous when she watched other comedians performs on TV, etc. If you are looking for juicy celebrity gossip you are looking in the wrong book. Radner set out to write about her journey … battling cancer, not her private life with other celebrities.

The writing style of the book isn’t quite elegant, timelines and scenes seemed randomized but Radner this was her first and only book after all.

Everyone seems to the think the quote below is the memorable line from this book.

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”

I think the next line, the final line of the memoir speaks louder however. To me this sums up (while using another story) Radner’s battle with cancer.

“When I was little Dibby’s cousin had a dog, just a mutt, and the dog was pregnant. I don’t know how long dogs are pregnant, but she was due to have her puppies in about a week. She was out in the yard one day and got in the way of the lawn mower, and her two hind legs got cut off. They rushed her to the vet and he said, “I can sew her up, or you can put her to sleep if you want, but the puppies are okay. She’ll be able to deliver the puppies.”
Dibby’s cousin said, “Keep her alive.”
So the vet sewed her backside and over the next week the dog learned to walk. She didn’t spend any time worrying, she learned to walk by taking two steps in the front and flipping up her backside, and then taking two steps and flipping up her backside again. She gave birth to six little puppies, all in perfect health. She nursed them and then weaned them. And when they learned to walk, they all walked like her.”

Who would I recommend this book to. Easily to those who are dealing with any type of cancer or who have a loved one with cancer. It will help you a great deal, I think. Even though this is in no way a self-help book, you can see what someone with cancer is going through first-hand. If you have any interest in Gilda Radner, have ever laughed at one of her jokes, I’d suggest picking this up to get to know her life a little bit better.

Worst part: This can be very tough to read at times because it is so real and unedited about what life is like when dealing with cancer. It took me about 4 months of reading this off and on to get through it. Plus, it is hard to read when you think about how you, the reader know that after Radner finished the manuscript and the book is published she dies from ovarian cancer. The reader is observing the last years of her life from her point of view and this can be gut-wrenching at times.

Best part: Honestly, I have to say the ending of the book. She doesn’t offer up complete hope at the end. She is unsure of her own future. And she made no excuses for the open-ending. And I thought it was beautiful.

Grade: C

Other Books by This Author: No other books by this author.


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