Sidney Sheldon,
The Other Side of Me
(Time Warner, 2005)

If someone mentions the name Sidney Sheldon, you immediately think about all the books he has written -- Windmills of the Gods, The Sands of Time and The Naked Face to name a few. He is one of the most translated authors in the world. But before he started writing novels, he had careers in several other fields, which he describes in his memoir, The Other Side of Me. Perhaps I am the only person who was ignorant of the fact that Sidney wrote for Hollywood, Broadway and television before penning novels and that, despite not making the connection, I was familiar with a lot of his work in those arenas as well.

The audiobook of The Other Side of Me is five CDs long. Sidney starts out describing how he grew up in Chicago during the Depression. He explains how he started out as a songwriter and eventually made his way to Hollywood to work in films. The memoir eventually leads up to the point where Sidney starts writing novels. I do not know how many times I exclaimed "He did that!??!" while listening to this audiobook, whether it was for the creation of television shows such as I Dream of Jeannie and The Patty Duke Show or winning an Oscar for his screenplay of The Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer. You cannot help but be amazed at the creativity this man had throughout his life!

Sidney's life was certainly not one success after another. He openly talks about his many failures and the times where he quit or was fired. But he always bounced back. A common theme throughout the audiobook is that whenever he knew something was going to be a success, it tended to fail miserably. Conversely, when he thought his work was not worthy, it got rave reviews and awards. A second theme is Sidney's manic-depression. His moods did not necessarily coincide with what was going on in his life. Since his condition did not have clinical recognition for much of his life, he essentially had to muddle through on his own or with the help of loved ones.

The audiobook of The Other Side of Me is read by Mike O'Malley. As I do not watch the television series Yes, Dear, I am not familiar with his work. While his picture looks vaguely familiar, I can't remember the characters he played in movies such as Pushing Tin and Deep Impact. His reading of The Other Side of Me is not memorable, either. His reading style is mediocre at best. His "accents" of famous people are generally not even close. Fortunately, the subject of this audiobook is interesting enough that Mike still maintains your attention. Mike would not be on my list of narrators for a novel.

Sidney Sheldon is a personality who almost seems unreal. He has accomplished more in one lifetime than a dozen regular folks. Yet, this memoir makes him seem quite human. His candidness about his bipolar disorder demonstrates that despite flaws, one can still rise above the crowd. I found the book entertaining regarding Sidney's history. I found it inspirational towards working to meet one's personal goals. I should also mention a conversation held with Sidney at the end of the last CD. He has such a rich history and comes across as very humble. I think that if you enjoy any of Sheldon's works -- be it novels, television shows, movies or Broadway -- you will find this audiobook worth your time.

by Wil Owen
11 November 2006

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