Listen, Jena, fame is no reason to write a book. Being Michael Caine is, though, and his autobiography The Elephant to Hollywood is a cozy collection of anecdotes spread across a varied and fantastic acting career. Get the audio book. It’s not the same without that voice.
Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living,” which I think might be our earliest example of academic snobbery. Of course every life is worth living and examining. One does not depend upon the other.
However, in the end, I’m glad Michael Caine took the time to write The Elephant to Hollywood, his second autobiography (he wrote the first when he thought his acting career was over. Then came the Muppets…). It’s sweet, studded with stars, and written with the same plain, humorous optimism Caine has become known for in his later years.
There is a chapter on the Batman movies. There is a chapter on The Man Who Would be King, and there is a chapter on Alfie. He hits on all the major landmarks of his life and career, but the real charm comes in the simple, pub way he tells the stories.
Any interview you see of Caine demonstrates his storytelling ability, and he goes for it all in this book. His performance in the audio book is remarkably intimate. You can nearly hear his voice break when he quotes his father’s last words, and he stops to have a good laugh at the end of some of his funnier stories.
I don’t know whose decision it was to leave that laughter in, but they understand the great charm of this book. Other than a few moments of philosophical insight, there is nothing immediately profound about this book. It’s greatest asset is the personality of its author, unencumbered for once by script, interviewer, or crowds. This is your chance for a cuppa with Uncle Scrooge reformed, Alfie grown old, Alfred off duty. Worth reading, even if you don’t examine it too closely.