Picks and Pans Review: I Dream of Woody

UPDATED 06/25/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/25/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Dee Burton

There may be a more peculiar book published this year, but it will have to be something like The Chocolate Chip Cookie and Banana Split Rapid Weight Loss Diet or Lionel Richie's Guide to Keynesian Economics. It's remarkable enough that Burton, who has a Ph.D. in personality and social psychology from New York's New School for Social Research, would have the idea to write about people whose dreams involve Woody Allen. It's astounding that when she placed ads seeking such people, she got so many responses. She says she received 144 dreams she considered valid—not daytime fantasies or just made-up tales—and selected 80 of them for this book. In the dreams, Woody Allen hires people for his movies, rejects them, sleeps with them, escorts them to the moon, turns into Marlon Brando, shows up on a football field full of snakes (taking Garry Trudeau's place), gives a lecture at a synagogue. Burton's descriptions of her dreamers are strange—"has never met Woody Allen but has seen him many times at Elaine's," "receives communications from extraterrestrial beings," "a New York taxi driver who has struggled to give up a life of crime," "owns an original Woody Allen doodling." She also includes far too many quotations from Allen's films and writing, as if she thinks the dreams explain something about Allen's personality. (Burton notified Allen of the project and sent him a manuscript before publication, but did not request an interview with him since she was not writing a biography.) As bizarre and specious as it is, the book has a strange fascination that has something to do with Americans' religious preoccupations with celebrity. Why aren't all these people dreaming about their fathers and mothers, or God, or, if they have to use some real-life figure, Mother Teresa? (Morrow, $12.95)

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