I am a big fan of Shirley McClain the Actress. I know nothing of Shirley McClain the Human Being, and this book was the first I’d met Sachi Parker, her much neglected daughter. All I knew of McClain was her body of work and her self-disclosed adventures with aliens. I had no idea that she truly believed Sachi’s father was a spaceman, or that the man who raised Sachi was a clone of her biological father, left on Earth to confuse the Russians. But once you learn that, you realize that McClain isn’t just a seriously flawed parent, she is a seriously delusional person who truly believed she was helping save the world, or at least NASA.
I am going to save you a lot of reading. This book was written after Sachi Parker discovered that her mother had blocked her from getting several acting jobs. She straight up says that she decided to write the book to expose her mother as being a competitive, cutthroat actor, who wouldn’t even lift a finger to help her daughter land a role, and who slapped down several roles that her daughter might have landed.
It wasn’t the neglect (McClain only saw Sachi on summer holidays and some breaks, and once forgot to pick her up from boarding school), the emotional abuse (starvation interrogation tactics), or the general nuttiness (McClain arranged for her daughter to lose her virginity while she and a couple of sex therapists waited outside the room) that makes up Sachi’s complaint (though they do make up 3/4s of the book), but it was McClain’s refusal to help her along in the entertainment industry that broke the camel’s back. And when you know your mother is crazy, is that the bone you choose to pick (and speaking of bones, how do you even begin to begin when you know there are three people waiting outside the door?)
Long story short regarding Sachi’s parentage: “Paul” Parker met and convinced McClain that he was a spaceman, who had a clone called “Steve”. He said that when he and McClain married, they would have to live apart because he would be in outer space, but that “Steve” would be staying on Earth to confuse enemies of the US space program. When Sachi was born, McClain sent her to live with Clone Steve in Japan, then funded “Paul’s” space missions with $60k a MONTH until Sachi made the big reveal (in her adulthood, after finding out what her mother believed) that Clone Steve was actually using the money to fund his exorbitant lifestyle (apartments in Paris, Hawaii, LA, as well as several homes in Japan, yachts, mistresses, etc.)
Sachi insists that her mother truly believed the space clone story, and says that just before her father’s death, he admitted the long con. He admitted he had strung McClain along with the story that he was in outer space, and his clone was raising their daughter. Now, for me, once you have told the world that your father is a class A conman, who may have just perpetrated the most complex, long running con in the history of romantic usery, and once you have told the world that your mother believed you were sired by a spaceman, and raised by a clone, you lose all right to complain that your mother cost you acting jobs.
The first 3/4s of the book are great. Good story-telling, bright prose, and–you know–Shirley McClain. The last quarter is all sour grapes.
3 out of 5 stars for being entertaining, but awfully self-indulgent.