Reviews for The Importance of Being Barbra
The Importance of Being Barbra by Tom Santopietro is a refreshingly different look at Streisand and her ongoing appeal.
He begins with a snappy prologue tied to Oscar night, 1969, when Streisand clutched a statuette for Funny Girl and truly became Hollywood royalty. Then he offers his thesis: what makes this woman so fascinating is the series of contradictions that lie at the core of her being.
There are separate chapters on Recordings, Film, Television, Concerts, Theater and Politics.
In each, Santopietro writes with the verve of a true Streisand aficionado. He's not afraid to exult her triumphs, or blow the whistle on her failures.
He's best at analyzing her recordings, getting as detailed as this observation about the way she sings the word "darling" in the version of "A House is Not a Home" she performed with herself on the Duets album.
"The listener knows the inflection has been minutely calculated," writes Santopietro, "but damn if it doesn't still work This woman sings of heartbreak, of emotional extravagance, from the very core of her being. I want. I need. Indeed."
American Theater Web
Well, interestingly, Tom Santopietro's new book, The Importance of Being Barbra, lays out the trajectory of her career while also examining it as a sort of overall military camp for stardom. While reading this jaunty, generally laudatory, occasionally acerbic, it was difficult for me not to think of Machiavelli's "The Prince."
In the book's chapters, which are divided into sections that encompass Streisand's achievements in realms such as "Recordings," "Film," "Television," "Theater" and even "Politics," Santopietro describes Streisand's achievements in ways that bring to mind a military battle plan. As we all know, there have been more fights won than that but Santopietro does not gloss over entertainment skirmishes that led to setbacks even momentary defeat (there are even times in which he seems to revel in these latter events).
For fans, such candor might seem sacrilegious, but for non-fans it's this elemen? Santopietro's book that makes it so refreshing. "Being Barbra" isn't a paean to Streisand, but a balanced assessment of her career and the personality, both it assets and liabilities, that has gone into shaping her stardom. Gossip is kept to minimum and it's a fair journalistic, critical assessment.
Here, finally is a book about Barbra Streisand that accepts her for both who she is and who she thinks she is. The politics, the perfectionism—all of it is embraced as Santopietro skillfully analyzes her career. Divided into sections on her concerts, recordings, films, etc., it's neither a hack job nor the work of a sycophant. It's a loving—at times exasperated—look at a woman who is capable of great things.
New York Post
Tom Santopietro's book is a serious, smart and amusing study of her career, rather than her personal life. Tom is a fan who doesn't fall down dead over everything his idol does. His clear-eyed assessments of her triumphs, near-misses and occasional disasters are "right on".
The Miami Herald
The Importance of Being Barbra fixates on Streisand's professional—not personal—life, and that focus makes it a more valuable keepsake for devotees who prefer something more thoughtful than In Touch magazine.
Tom Santopietro challenges us. It's the star's work, not innuendo, that matters most.
Anyone who ends an analysis such as this with a "career scorecard" grading each of her efforts is worth reading. Cheeky and essential to a well-rounded Streisand collection, this book is highly recommended for public and academic libraries alike.
Santopietro ponders Streisand's career moves insightfully, noting that many of the stories she has brought to the screen have a Cinderella theme that reflects her own struggle for acceptance by the American public.
Santopietro's reverent descriptions of Streisand's artistry almost make it seem worth the exorbitant ticket prices to see this living legend.
The Boston Globe
But theater manager, Tom Santopietro does offer a fresh approach to Streisand's varied five-decade career, applying both a fan's affection and a cultural critic's analysis to the role Streisand has played in the larger culture of her times.