Part Swan, Part Goose
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In a wise, warmhearted memoir that celebrates her extraordinary life and stellar career, Swoosie Kurtz welcomes readers into her world, sharing personal misadventures and showbiz lore and candidly reflecting on the intimate journey of caring for an aging parent. Told with intelligence and Swoosie’s hallmark comedic timing, Part Swan, Part Goose makes a powerful statement about womanhood, work and family.
Swoosie’s is the kind of memoir that doesn’t come without a fascinating back story: Enter the parents, Frank and Margo Kurtz. Frank, an Olympic diving medalist, later became one of the most decorated aviators in American history. He flew a record number of missions in a cobbled-together B-17D Flying Fortress called “The Swoose,” now housed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Margo chronicled their early years together in her memoir, My Rival, the Sky, published by Putnam in 1945. The book ends with the young couple happily anticipating the birth of a baby to be named after the indomitable Swoose.
Today, Margo, who is approaching her hundredth birthday, lives with Swoosie. As Margo’s reality drifts freely between her morning coffee and a 1943 war bond tour, Swoosie struggles to stay ahead of her mother’s increasing needs while navigating the pitfalls and pratfalls of the entertainment industry. This precarious moment in time is bittersweet and occasionally overwhelming, but every day is oxygenated with laughter and love. The careful weaving of Swoosie’s story with passages from My Rival, the Sky creates a vivid portrait of the invincible mother-daughter bond between the two women.
Part Swan, Part Goose is that rare Hollywood memoir that takes us behind the curtain but doesn’t live there; its heart is solidly at home. It doesn’t pretend to tell all, but what it does tell is deeply resonant for millions caring for aging parents, timely and topical for book clubs and entertaining as hell for readers in general.