The Beauty of Living Twice is all over the place — a passage about spending 1984 in Zimbabwe shooting King Solomon’s Mines, all Congolese black hash and terrifying hospitals, demands another book, while her description about her “life of service” is a textbook illustration of the queasy interplay between charity and celebrity, and what happens when Madonna is late for a fundraising gala. Yet it leaves the righteous impression of somebody who knows her own value, who understands Basic Instinct is “about more than just a peek up my skirt, people” and who knows the power of women getting mad and getting even. “No, I didn’t get the fairy tale,” she writes. “I got real life.” Even through the Hollywood filters, it’s there on every page.
She says now, at 63, she is something of a recluse. She can walk normally and has regained “most” of her memory but the right side of her head still hurts. She takes acting roles when offered but is not hungry for it as she used to be. She spends most of her time doing charitable work, raising money for Aids or handing out sleeping bags to homeless people, or taking a friend to Native American full-moon hoop ceremonies to cure her cancer. Unfortunately this is much less fun to read about than her rumbustious childhood or her Hollywood career. But there are enough great yarns and sardonic jokes in the rest of the book to make up for the woo-woo “inspirational” babble at the end.