In an interview with New York Times reviewer, Dave Itzkoff, Jim Carrey explained his latest book, “Memoirs and Misinformation,” co-written by author of Wall Street satire, “Mergers & Acquisitions,” Dana Vachon. “It’s the end of the world, and we have the perfect book for it.”
“Not the end of civilization,” he continued. “Just the end of a world, the selfish world. We’re getting over the Ayn Rand, ‘you can be a jerk and we can all live in a paradise of jerks’ thing. That’s what we’re going through.”
Part autobiography, part fiction, Carrey and Vachon draw disparate parts of experience together to pull off an unconventional memoir/farewell letter to civilization as they know it.
It opens with the broken, bed bound, paranoid, messy version of Jim Carrey. Apocalyptic and soulless, Los Angeles serves as a backdrop for his mental state. Visceral ruminations follow, treating Hollywood as a trope for civilization teetering on the brink of extinction.
This Jim Carrey trusts no one. Reality is fickle. Celebrities are phonies. Even time is a “trick.”
If it weren’t for Carrey’s brilliant humor, and Vachon’s taught, lyrical prose, I might not have been able to take this grim version of Hollywood culture. Jim Carrey, Drama King, is an apocalyptic persona within an apocalypse. He exposes the underbelly of acting, agents, celebrity, and privilege, while yearning for friendship, romance, and meaning.
No one is safe passing under his purview. Least of all himself. While watching a television show explaining how Cro-Magnon annihilated the Neanderthals, he falls apart, drawing parallels to his fear of “total erasure.” He asks, is the “value of an existence as part of a species forever looping between horror and heartache…?”
Lonely, restless, narcissistic, he looks to his guard dogs and a computerized security system, that speaks ”in the voice of a Singaporean opium heiress who summered in Provence,” for affection.
He’s in mourning for the world, and for his lost “self.” Terrified of life, terrified of death. The thought of John Lennon’s final portrait taken in the morgue, sends him into a self-grooming frenzy, just in case he dies and fanboys at the morgue sell his photo to the highest bidder.
Flashback to the beginning of the end.
This Jim Carrey is on top of his game. In a darkly comedic scenario, he’s at a banquet celebrating a whopping box office success. Surrounded by grifting dignitaries (investors), he charms them with an absurd guzzle from a bottle of expensive wine. Further laying the groundwork for a sleazy, black comedy of Hollywood culture, Carrey and Vachon go on to describe his early (fictionalized) career, poking fun at Nicolas Cage, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Tom Cruise, and the celebrity addiction to cosmetic surgery.
In a world where even reality TV is fake, Jim Carrey continually asks himself, What is real?
He affirms in interviews that some passages were written from real life experiences. As a sincere seven-year-old, he definitely was desperate to bring a smile to his ill mother’s face. He truly does carry a torch for the singer, Linda Ronstadt, who he dated in his twenties. He is still mourning the loss of his friend Rodney Dangerfield.
And yet, he is quoted in a press release, saying that “none of it is real, and all of it is true.”
In the end, Carrey and other stars are battling an alien invasion, a slapstick finale that pokes fun at the book itself, as it correlates his misfortunes with Armageddon.
Ultimately, “Memoirs and Misinformation” is a feverish, visionary dream. It echoes Dostoevsky’s diary, “Notes from the Underground,” that opens with “I am a sick man.” Both books amalgamate fiction and non-fiction. Both expose illusions upon which society is formed, and the resultant effect on individual lives. And both are narrated by terribly clever, unreliable characters who emblazon the egotistical self struggling to maintain control over life rather than transform. #
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