Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: Babylon Confidential: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and Addiction by Claudia Christian

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Honest, moving, and inspiring autobiography
Cons: I would have liked more about Babylon 5
Bottom Line:
Claudia bares all
As she shares both highs and lows
Battles alcohol

Confidentially, I Enjoyed this Book from a Babylon 5 Star

Almost 20 years after it went off the air, I still say my favorite TV show is Babylon 5.  While I love all the main characters, I lean toward Susan Ivanova being my favorite character.  So when I learned that Claudia Christian, the actress who portrayed her, was releasing a memoir, I was intrigued.  The title, or should I say sub-title, is a little off-putting Babylon Confidential: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and Addiction.  But I couldn’t stay away from a book signing, and I was curious enough to read the book.  I’m glad I did.

Claudia has not had an easy life, and she is quite candid about the family tragedy and personal affronts that attacked her even before she moved to Hollywood.  Once she moved there, her life became a whirlwind of jobs working with the famous and the not quite as famous as she built her career.  But behind it all, she was staying one step ahead of addiction, and when it finally hit her, she crashed hard.

This book gives a new appreciation about just how small Hollywood really is.  At times, it feels like name dropping, but the reality is she is just relating stories from her life.  It gives you a greater appreciation for the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, however.  I mean, she was married to Gary Devore, who died under mysterious circumstances.  The maid of honor at her wedding was Lana Clarkson, who was killed by Phil Spector.  And she had an on again, off again relationship with Dodi Fayed who died with Princess Diana in Paris.

But the book isn’t really about name dropping.  She does talk about many of her movies and TV shows and shared the not so glamorous side of working in Hollywood, like the jerks you can get as co-stars.

Honestly, I was hoping for more about her time on Babylon 5, although she does spend some time not only on working on the show but also talking about the fans and conventions.  She obviously still has a fond place in her own heart for the show.  She does get into what happened that kept her from being in the show’s final season, and she does it in a gracious manner that shows she has long since moved on.

But the heart of the book is really about her struggle with alcoholism.  She hints at it long before it finally overtakes her.  And when she gets there, some of her stories are enough to scare any thought of drinking from my mind.  I don’t want to end up there.

Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending, and Claudia talks about the Sinclair Method, which has returned her to her life before the monster took over.  It’s a brief ending to the story, and she is candid enough to show she will always struggle, but it is encouraging.

Overall, the book was well written, and I always had a hard time putting it down.  But do be prepared for some tragedy and brutal honesty.  In the end, I respect Claudia more for it.

So I’m glad I picked up Babylon Confidential: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and Addiction.  It’s an engaging read that lets me feel like I got to know a favorite actress better.

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