Picks and Pans Review: Dolly

updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Dolly Parton

Long before she was a star, Dolly Parton and her husband, Carl Dean, were looking for a parcel of land in Brentwood, Tenn., to build their dream house. "We'd better buy a big enough lot," she told Dean, "so that we can have privacy when the tour buses come by trying to look in." They bought 75 acres. Today, the tour buses do drive by but, thanks to Parton's prescience, the house is so far back no one can see in.

This book is a look-in on the self-described "trashy-looking blond country singer" whose matchless singing voice and unquestioning faith in herself led her from a sharecropper's cabin in east Tennessee to superstardom.

Dolly is full of obligatory celeb anecdotes about Johnny Carson, Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds, among others. And Parton cheerfully makes it clear she's no Dolly Two-shoes, admitting that she has run naked across Tom Jones's lawn, jettisoned her panties while singing on a swing and displayed her bare breasts on a restaurant platter.

But the best part focuses on her early years. She grew up in a family that was so poor her mother once had to perform homemade surgery to reattach Dolly's toes when she severed them on an old plowshare. Dolly writes about cuddling up with piglets and sucking on a sow's teats and about making a mandolin from abandoned piano wire. Early in her career, she survived by stealing leftover food from room-service trays in hotels.

The downside is that Parton makes a few too many jokes about her breasts. Far be it from this reviewer to get into a tasteless discussion of Parton's brassiere cups, which, by the way, are a size DD. Dolly may never rank stylistically with James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but then Parton has better material. (HarperCollins $25)

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