The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

November 21, 2009

JPL book review: Ex-child star’s ‘Adventures’ funny, touching characters

If you’ve seen the 1977 film “The Goodbye Girl,” you might recall Quinn Cummings. She was the precocious kid who cracked wise with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, a performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.

Alas, like many child stars, her acting career faltered as she grew up. She’d be nothing more than an entertainment footnote if not for two things: her invention of the HipHugger baby sling, and her newfound popularity as a blogger, which has resulted in the publication of her first book, “Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life.”

I know, I know: “Notes from the Underwire” sounds like a bad Erma Bombeck book. But stick with me here. If you can get past the lame house frau title, you’ll find a very funny and occasionally poignant collection of personal essays.

Cummings is not a woman who takes herself too seriously. In fact, the first piece in the book, “My Original Nose,” details a bad encounter with a plate-glass window and delves into her chronic clumsiness — troublesome for her, but hilarious for those around her.

While still trying to make a living as an actress, she begins to view herself as “professionally unattractive” when it comes to getting roles: “Now I was finding out I had set up my camp in the no-man’s land between Cute Girl, Ugly Friend, and the Thing that Demands Payment in Order to Walk over Its Bridge.”

An attempt to launch a career as a sitcom writer earns her this praise from a television executive: “You’re good. You’re not just good. You’re ‘Saved by the Bell’ good.” Somehow, she didn’t think this compliment was an indication that she’d set the sitcom-writing world on fire.

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