A personally revealing autobiography: In Pieces by Sally Field
Two-time Oscar winner, Sally Fields, reveals personal details about her life including her relationship with her parents and issues she dealt with as a young aspiring actress.
In Pieces, Sally Field
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir
Published 2018, 416 pages
“I’ve tried to piece together my childhood and early career most of my adult life, relentlessly going over the memories, occasionally telling some of the stories to a captivated few, and I realize I’ve become my own lore, halfway falling in love with the drama of it all.”
I felt I got some insight into Sally’s life and especially her as a person through this book. She’s very honest about her shortcomings and flaws, including not always being there for her sons when they were young.
Her mother was beautiful and an actress, later a drunk; she stopped drinking when Sally asked for help with her two young sons. They had a close, complicated relationship all their lives and that relationship dominates Sally’s story. Their family didn’t talk about feelings or problems in the family. Her step-father, Jocko, was a stuntman and actor. He was also creepy, just shy of physically abusive with Sally.
When she was a teenager and in her early 20s Sally had low self-esteem so she ate and ate. When she started acting she couldn’t say no to people, couldn’t speak out, it was difficult for her to ask for what she wanted. Acting drew Sally out of her shell; it was the only place she felt comfortable and at ease, and right.
Speaking about getting ready to do a scene in front of Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio she said:
“I was standing on the cheese end of a mousetrap, unafraid or unaware that I could be crushed. I saw it only as a way to lift off the ground, to be catapulted into space, to feel alive.”
She goes on to talk about how embarrassed she was to be doing The Flying Nun, and how she fought for certain roles - Sybil and Mary Todd in Spielberg’s Lincoln. She touches on her Oscar winning roles, but the book doesn’t dwell on her successes.
When it comes to Bandit and Burt Reynolds, she writes:
“How can I write this? I walk around and around but can’t make myself sit down and start. Can I find some truth in the shreds of my memory, or the gibberish in my journals, in the letters I wrote and never sent, or the letters he wrote and I kept? Can I paste it all together and make any sense out of it? And how can I dish out these thoughts, the reassessment of a time that was so private and confusing, when in my mind’s eye, all I can see is the press circling around, like sharks smelling blood? I want to protect him from that, from their ongoing titillation with him, protect him from me. But I can’t. I’ll write. Maybe I’ll leave it. Maybe I won’t. Problem is, even if I delete it from the page, I can’t delete it from my mind, my history, or my heart. If I write it down maybe I’ll understand it, finally.”
In Burt’s memoir, which I also read, he described Sally as the love of his life. In her book, he dominated her. She buried herself and disappeared, made herself into what he wanted. Funny to hear her describe herself as someone who loves to swear. Burt didn’t like it, so she wouldn’t do it around him. She couldn’t ever criticize him or give him suggestions, he would get angry. It goes on – they did not have a good or healthy relationship.
If you like Sally Field as an actress and have enjoyed her movies, then you will want to read this book to know her in other ways. She's a fascinating woman.