Review: The Other Side of Me (Sidney Sheldon)

I have never read an autobiography before. In a way I'm entering a new genre of books with The Other Side of Me. But now, having read Sidney Sheldon's autobiography, I'm not completely sure if that is an accurate description of this book. Yes, it's all about Sheldon, but the style is so much like that of his other works that I'm almost tempted to label this as a thriller. A look at the opening sentence ought to tell you why...

At the age of seventeen, working as a delivery boy at Afremov's drugstore in Chicago was the perfect job, because it made it possible for me to steal enough sleeping pills to commit suicide.

Sheldon starts with a description of his childhood during the 1930s. It was the time when the Great Depression had left a great many people poor and unemployed, and Sheldon's parents too weren't spared. Then he moves on to the early days of his career when he didn't achieve any success even as he struggled with manic depression (that nearly led him to commit suicide at the age of 17) and then finally to his successful career in Broadway, and in television and Hollywood.

The style of the book, as I mentioned before, is that of a novel. Every sentence is designed to make sure that you read the next. It's nearly as un-put-down-able as any of his novels, but the final third of the book slows down the narrative a little bit. Once he becomes successful in Hollywood, there are so many anecdotes about celebrities that it starts getting a bit irritating.

Sheldon uses a very interesting metaphor to describe his life -- that of an elevator that's always going up or down. He started off at the bottom floor, had bumpy ride upwards and finally settles somewhere near the top floor in the 1970s when he switched over to writing novels. My biggest disappointment with the book is that Sheldon's career as a novelist is hardly mentioned. The book is good for anyone who wants to read about his television and Hollywood careers. I didn't know a thing about that part of Sheldon's life, and I think a lot of fans of his books are going to agree with me on that. And looking back at the book now, I must admit that leaving out his writing career wasn't such a bad idea after all. Being the brilliant storyteller that he is, Sheldon knows better than anyone that people like reading about an elevator that's on a bumpy ride more than about one that's comfortably perched on the top floor.

Rating: 7/10


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