She wasn’t a bra burner – her bras were too pricey to torch. ; ) But mega-star Elizabeth Taylor, as defiant as she was dazzling, introduced a broad audience to feminist ideas through her portrayal of iconic characters. So says author M.G. Lord in her new book “The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice” (Walker & Co., $23).
For proof, Lord analyzes a number of films, including “National Velvet” (1944), “A Place in the Sun” (1951), “Giant” (1956), “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959), “BUtterfield 8” (1960) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966). Lord also looks at Taylor’s off-screen life (it would be hard not to), particularly her fund-raising efforts in the 1980s for AIDS research.
The book – a potpourri of breezy backstory, biographical nibbles and fresh insights into Taylor’s work – is a fast, fun read, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, followed by tubs of popcorn and Taylor movie-viewing.
Of Lord’s many sources, I especially liked the input from syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith, who described Taylor as follows: “No movie of hers quite captures the rather ordinary woman she is – full of fun, rather wacky, often wise, often foolish, her life and motivations inevitably morphed by fame.
“When you are with her, it is her history and the atmosphere around her that are daunting. She is just a short, funny gal who wants to talk about what’s next on the menu.”
Lord, a cultural critic, investigative journalist and author of “Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll” and “Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science” will discuss and sign “The Accidental Feminist” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. And at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, Diesel bookstore, 225 26th St. in Brentwood, will host a publication party for Lord’s book.
Additionally, The Last Bookstore this week welcomes writers Cheryl Klein and Peter Coca in what looks to be a noir-infused event. Says Klein: “I’ll be reading from my untitled circus-novel-in-progress, and I’ll do my best to find something appropriately post-Valentine’s. Meaningless sex? A breakup? Happy singlehood? You’ll have to wait and see. Also, bring your own stuff for the open mic if you dare. Please dare. Or don’t. It’s cool either way.”
The reading will start at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles.