Picks and Pans Review: It's All in the Playing

updated 11/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Shirley MacLaine

Some day perhaps, when all the karmas are in balance, the vibrational frequencies are properly attuned and the spiritual carburetors are perfectly adjusted, people who write reviews will be universally kind to authors who write about reincarnation, UFOs, spirits of the dead, and how they think they just might be God. That will be then; this is now. MacLaine's fifth volume of memoirs is a pathetic piece of crackpot business. The book is devoted to the making of the TV miniseries based on MacLaine's first misadventure into the occult, Out on a Limb. It includes a number of peculiar passages. The ghost of Alfred Hitchcock, for instance, is said to be guiding production of the miniseries. MacLaine also reveals that her daughter, Sachi, was a London pickpocket in a previous life. MacLaine herself talks of "channeling" back to a previous life in, where else?, Atlantis, where she remembers lying on a stone slab and finding, who else?, Tina Turner standing there. She recalls a moment of soul-searching: "Did any of my qualms really matter? Was I going to keep who I was in a closet? Did it matter what anybody else thought?" (The answers, by the way, Shirl, are: Apparently not; We should be so lucky; Why start letting little things like common sense bother you now?) When someone mentions Hitler, she says, "Wow, we just can't figure out what that monster meant to the human race, can we?" She quotes one of her entity pals as revealing that AIDS could be cured by a "reversal of the karma." MacLaine also speculates about whether she might have created God. All of this would be merely bizarre were it not for the self-absorbed heartlessness that MacLaine's deterministic philosophy insists on—we cause everything that happens to us. Even when she learns of the car accident death of her former lover "Gerry," the married British politician who was a central figure in Out on a Limb, her first reaction is, "Why did he do it?" MacLaine opens her book by quoting an Inca prophecy: "When the eagle of the North flies with the condor of the South—the spirit of the land she will awaken." That sentiment suggests a corollary: "When the author of the West next consorts with the publisher of the East—the writer of the review he will go bowling." (Bantam, $18.95)

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