- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
It's been over two years since Woody Allen's memoir “Apropos of Nothing” was released, and once again its publication fiasco is being relitigated thanks to writer James Patterson.
Speaking with The Sunday Times in an interview published over the weekend, Patterson lamented white men struggling to find writing jobs in film, theater, TV and publishing industries as "just another form of racism."
The 75-year-old author also griped with the uproar over Allen's memoir, which was pulled by publisher Hatchette Book Group after employees walked out of work in protest. "I hated that," Patterson said of the publishing house pulling Allen's book. "He has the right to tell his own story."
He added: "I’m almost always on the side of free speech."
The book did find a home, though. Less than a month later, Allen's memoir was picked up by Arcade Publishing and released in March 2020. Here's our unsparing review:
“Apropos of Nothing” is 400 pages of feeling stuck sitting next to the world’s most tiresome dinner party guest, a long-winded old man rhapsodizing over his many sexual conquests, recounting in exhaustive detail every fancy meal he has ever eaten and name-dropping all the celebrities he has ever rubbed elbows with. There are some insights into his creative process, but none of them are deep – it’s largely reminisced hobnobbing and dalliances.
Until he gets to Mia Farrow and her daughters, Soon-Yi Previn and Dylan.
You know the story, but in brief: When Allen was 56, he was discovered to be having an affair with 21-year-old Previn (whom he'd known since she was a child) after long-term partner Mia found nude Polaroids of her in Allen’s home. Shortly thereafter, Allen was accused of molesting their 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan.
“I never laid a finger on Dylan, never did anything to her that could be even misconstrued as abusing her,” Allen writes. “It was a total fabrication from start to finish, every subatomic particle of it.” It was all, Allen argues, a fabrication meant to punish him for his affair with Previn. “Mia embarked on an Ahab-like quest for revenge."
Allen’s account paints Mia Farrow as an abusive, baby-crazed harridan who beat and brainwashed her many children. She’s not a loving mother looking to protect her brood, but a scorned woman seeking vengeance at all costs.
Accusations and implications fly at breakneck pace: Allen suggests Mia Farrow was molested by her own family members growing up; that she helped drive two of her children to suicide; that she slept in the nude with Ronan until he was 11; that she purposefully left a daughter to die alone of AIDS in a hospital on Christmas morning; that she left Allen a Valentine’s Day card with a real kitchen knife stuck through its heart; that she might have inappropriately cozied up to the judge and prosecutor in the molestation case; and even, incredibly, that she coerced Ronan, after he graduated law school, into having his legs broken so he could surgically increase his height.
Allen accuses her of everything short of being the Zodiac Killer. But it all comes down to this: “ As much as I nosed around trying to see if I could pick up on the darker side of Mia’s behavior, apart from her obsession with (Ronan) I never saw her beating anybody or throwing any fits.”
The only people who will know with 100% certainty what happened (or didn’t) in the Connecticut attic where Dylan says she was assaulted are Allen and Dylan. Allen was never found guilty of any crime, but that’s not the only metric by which you can judge a man.
The way he talks about women is frequently repellent. His assistant principal was a “fatso.” “I Love Lucy” actress Vivian Vance was a “huge pain in the neck” and a “pill.” Child custody supervisors are “stupid” and “insipid martinets.” He describes women he dated as “delectable bohemian little kumquats.” Of second wife Louise Lasser, Allen writes, “ She’d make a real effort to be the perfect girlfriend, but she never met a mattress she didn’t like and had a cottontail’s libido.”
The one relationship that seems as if it may have been healthy, with actress Diane Keaton, is swiftly spoiled when Allen reveals he slept with both her sisters. “The three Keaton sisters were all beautiful, wonderful women. Good genes in that family. Award-winning protoplasm. Great-looking mother.” Ew.
The rest is whinging self-pity. He repeatedly decries what he calls the “ Appropriate Police.” He notes there’s a monument honoring him in Oviedo, Spain, “unless a hate-driven mob has pulled it over.” Near the end of the book, as he reflects on all the Hollywood elite who’ve distanced themselves, he writes, “I must say it was very amusing to view all of these people running helter-skelter to help a nutsy woman (Farrow) carry out a vengeful plan.”
"Apropos of Nothing" is devoid of introspection, feeling and accountability. It’s hard to reconcile how a man with enough romance to make “Annie Hall,” enough heart to make “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” enough humor to make “Bananas” and enough psychological insight to make “Crimes and Misdemeanors” can show so little of those same qualities in the pages of this book.
Contributing: Erin Jensen
'The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee': Absorbing bio details dismantles myths surrounding Marvel comics icon
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Patterson is defending Woody Allen's memoir. Here's why we hated it