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A Twist of Lemmon
Written by Written by Chris Lemmon   

 Book Review  by  Diana Saenger  

a_twist_of_lemon250.jpgAnyone who adored "everyman" Jack Lemmon will thoroughly enjoy reading A Twist of Lemon: A Tribute to My Father, a tribute to Lemon written by his son, Chris.

In his foreword, Kevin Spacey writes his own personal account of meeting the famed comedian, and how Lemmon helped set Spacey's life course. "He was a man who anyone could be enormously proud to know, and most especially anyone who has ever called himself an actor. He was a credit to his profession because he was a person whose humanity was bigger than his talent."

As both Chris and Spacey bring up in the book several times, Lemmon's three words, "it's magic time" that he spoke just as every film clapper announced the beginning of every movie, actually sums up his life.

chris_lemmon200.jpgChris writes very honestly about his life as Lemmon's son. His parents divorced early, so Chris didn't grow up in his father's home, but he and his dad spent countless summer vacations together, as well as having twice weekly outings. The tales of them in the Alaskan wilderness has incidents that had me laughing out loud, and that doesn't happen often. There is still some raw emotion Chris instills in his story, as he treasured every moment with this dad, but always wondered about those moments he missed.

Jack Lemmon was a consummate actor. Chris, and others, have said his calling was to be an actor. "He had difficulty with close emotions and if someone ask him something he didn't want to answer, he gave his standard reply, €˜Hello operator, we have a bad connection,' said Chris in his book.

A Twist of Lemmon, said Chris, is about a father-son relationship and is also a defense mechanism. After losing his mother to cancer, Chris decided to write the book once he sat in the hospital watching his father

Jack & Cynthia
with baby Chris
passing away.

As a film critic I had a chance to interview Jack Lemmon and will forever cherish those short moments, and my puzzling interaction with Jack's dog, Chloe (there's lots about Lemmon's dogs in the book). For sure that experience endured this book to me even more. But never have I read a book where I was laughing so hard on one page, and a few pages on had to stop because the tears were flowing.  

The chapters move back and forth between Chris' personal recollections and observations to family memories and of course, lots of good stuff about Lemmon's movies, including Days of Wine and Roses, Some Like It Hot, The Out of Towners, The Odd Couple, The Fortune Cookie and more. Chris also discusses his dad's off camera moments. Lemmon was an avid golfer who spent many years participating with other celebrities in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament. He was also a passionate pianist.

In addition to wonderful content, the book has photos and comments about Lemmon from other celebrities.

Chris lost his father while holding him in his arms on June 27, 2001 from cancer. In this poignant tribute, Chris writes eloquently about his life with his dad, offering insight, laughter, and tears and some surprising facts about Lemmon's life. And for all those who ask, "What was it like growing up as Jack Lemmon's son?" A Twist of Lemmon has all the answers.


€’ A Twist of Lemmon

€’ Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, 2008

€’ ISBN 13: 978-1-55783-739-4

€’ Softcover

€’ 193 pages

€’ $16.95

Images © Applause Theatre and Cinema Books/Chris Lemmon

Read interview with Chris Lemmon




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