Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe

I didn’t want to read Rob Lowe’s autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, and I sure didn’t want to like it, but I did both. When I told my hubby who was equally disinterested in Rob Lowe that I’d really enjoyed Lowe’s book, he said, “What was so good about it?” I effortlessly ticked off the following:

1.   Lowe apparently wrote Stories I Only Tell My Friends, himself, and he did a good job. His mother was a prolific, yet seldom published writer, and his family ran in a pretty educated circle. This literate foundation provided a more apt and cultivated narrative than I expected. No doubt he has a good editor too. Plus Jodie Foster is one of his best friends, and I doubt she suffers dummies.

2.   I listened to the audio version of the book, and was entertained and amused by Lowe's exceptional voice impersonations of the many recognizable characters he talked about in his book. The way he introduced his famous friends was fun too - almost like a game of charades. He would tell a little bit of a story about someone, tossing out clues, then came the big reveal. I had fun trying to guess who he was introducing based on a clue like, “We both took our trash out on Tuesdays, and he would fix me with that look and say, ‘I’ll be back.’” Well, not that obvious, but you get the picture (no pun intended).

3.   When Lowe was a teen, he and his mom and brothers moved to Santa Monica where he met, went to school, and ran around with the Sheen kids (Emilio, Charlie), the Penn kids (Sean and brothers) and Robert Downey, Jr. Not surprisingly, while other kids were surfing, they were filming amateur movies.

4.   Rob Lowe’s memories about the making of the hugely important, 80’s coming-of-age film, “The Outsiders,” was detailed and fascinating. Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane – all angsty kids, all unknowns, except for Dillon and Lane, trying out for, and getting parts in the movie. His stories about Swayze, Cruise and working with very, very weird director, Francis Ford Coppola were notably satisfying.

5.   Lowe was full of titillating tales about Martin Sheen, who he met through Charlie and Emilio, right after Sheen returned from his famously tempestuous filming of “Apocalypse Now.” Yes, Coppola strikes again. Apparently the combined effect of Coppola-stress, and the jungle, gave Sheen a heart attack at age 33, and some type of (seemingly) temporary psychosis. Lowe and Sheen’s paths would cross again in the TV mega-hit series, "West Wing." Click on Read More Below...

6.   The book is liberally sprinkled with yummy tidbits about Lowe’s dating drama. Anyone as handsome as Lowe is going to attract some babes. Of course there are too many to list, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I’ll toss out a few, some of which were brief affairs, i.e., Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon’s daughter, Natassia Kinsky, and most interesting, Princess Stephanie of Monaco (an especially saucy story). Then there was Amy Grant ("Little House on The Prairie"), who he barely mentioned, but dated for years, and according to the many irate reviews of his book that I saw, apparently screwed royally. (Photo above is of Princess Stephanie)

7.   Then there was the reoccurring and over-used theme of “the burden of being gorgeous, rich and famous,” which although understandable and no doubt real, is just a “whatever” moment for the un-gorgeous, un-rich and un-famous of us.

8.   Lowe seems to lose a little steam about halfway through his book, not providing as much depth to the equally ripe topics of his life-after-age 25, i.e., his friendship with Mike Meyers and involvement with Saturday Night Live, "Wayne’s World" and the Austin Powers movies, his "West Wing" stint, alcoholism, 20-year marriage, and a rather baffling insinuation that he was a target of al-Qaida and a passenger on a dry run for the WTC high jacking. Oh, and one more complaint while I’m at it. The book begins with a story about Lowe’s brief but interesting encounter with JFK Jr. just prior to said Kennedy’s death. Although I am fascinated by anything “Kennedy,” as are most breathing humans, it felt a little exploitive. I got Lowe’s legit point in bringing it up, but well, you be the judge.

9.   The book never lost my attention. I tend to drive out to west Texas a lot, during which I listen to books. Since it’s 400 miles of virtually nothing, screaming by at 82 mph, my mind tends to wander if not firmly tethered to an especially enthralling anchor. I’ve made that drive so many times that I frequently find myself on autopilot, mentally skipping from an audio book, to why my mother said so-and-so, and then to what I should cook for dinner next week, then back to the present, “waking” and wondering, “Have I gone through Sonora yet?” That didn’t happen with Stories I Only Tell My Friends. I was with Lowe the whole trip.

10.   This book made me realize that I’m guilty of judging people based on one life mistake. About all I knew about Rob Lowe was that he was (1) pretty, and (2) had sex with an underage girl, for which I hated him.  Stories I Only Tell My Friends, reminded me that there’s much, much more to Rob Lowe then that error– not that it was his only one, but it made me wonder. What if I was judged by only my mistakes? We are not our stumbles; we are the sum of our mistakes, our victories, and even our banal existence. I learned something, and I learned something about myself, which is always valuable.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if he talks about all his life-errors, the answer is, barely - to err and gloss over is human, to forgive is divine. Read it, or better yet, listen to it.


  1. your final comments make me want to read your book!

  2. The book was interesting, but if you don't know some things about Rob Lowe already you will have to look up what he is talking about. He was involved in one scandal, but doesn't say what it is. He assumes you know. A bit too fluffy for me.