Kim Zimmer, with Laura Morton,
I'm Just Sayin'!
Three Deaths, Seven Husbands, and a Clone!
My Life as a Daytime Diva

(New American Library, 2011)

After 72 years on the air, the daytime soap opera Guiding Light was canceled, and perhaps its best-known actress, Kim Zimmer, found herself in a state of reflection. For Zimmer it was like experiencing a death. There was shock, grief, anger and, finally, moving forward. After all, Zimmer spent 26 years playing the role of Reva Shayne.

Perhaps the problem for the discerning reader is that Zimmer's stories are raw and clumsily told, with an excessive number of exclamation points peppering each page.

It's unfortunate but true; the writing in this 300-page memoir is hackneyed and cliched. She prides herself on telling it like it is, but in this memoir that often includes relaying crass stories that would have been better left to the private memories of the actors. Having said that, by the end of the book I still found myself liking Zimmer. I could see what her fans adored. She's spunky and entirely without pretense.

The book is not without merit. It does give the reader a look at how difficult soap-opera acting is, something I'd previously not understood. The job of soap-opera actors is to make the unbelievable both tantalizing and real for the viewing audience, and to do that not once, but thousands of times. There is every indication from her legion of fans that Zimmer did just that. Chapter 10 in particular is a thoroughly enjoyable read as Zimmer recounts the soap's hysterical storylines, several suggested by the book's subtitle.

Technically a memoir, this book lacks the deeper reflections that a reader might expect from the genre as Zimmer recounts her life on Guiding Light. Exceptions to this are her description of losing her Mom and of being arrested for DUI. Those are brief likable moments where the actress takes a back seat in the storytelling and Zimmer goes beneath the surface to describe the pain of those events.

Fans of Kim Zimmer will look beyond the innumerable exclamation points and enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at Guiding Light from the actress who played Reva Shayne. Fans of good writing should look elsewhere.

book review by
Kathy Wenerick-Bell

8 December 2012

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