Early Reviews For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Memoir Are Not Pumped Up

The movie star and former governor of California has teased out several revelations from his autobiography, but the book plays it safe, several critics say.

Based on early reviews, it seems a more apt title for Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall would be Selective Memory.

Of course, it would no longer be a play on the title of one of his most famous films, but it'd be more accurate, anyway.

While the body builder-turned-movie star-turned-governor-turned-tabloid magnet has spent the last month or so promoting his "Unbelievably True Life Story," with admissions about the affair with his maid that led to an illegitimate love child -- and several other affairs -- making headlines, the consensus thus far seems to be that he didn't provide the same sort of juice that made him a muscle-bound hero.

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"For the record, Total Recall is about as far from a 'tell-all' memoir as it gets," Mary McNamara writes in the LA Times. "Although an exhaustive and at times exhausting documentation of Schwarzenegger's unique and amazing career, it is a book almost completely devoid of self-examination. Given the author, that is not nearly as surprising as is its resolute PG rating — for all the salacious behavior that has been attributed to and admitted by Schwarzenegger over the years, he portrays himself as a reasonable, earnest kind of guy who has merely made a few high-spirited mistakes, none of which he cares to discuss here."

Vernon Loeb, of the Washington Post, echoes the sentiment, writing, "Schwarzenegger’s tale falls far short of total recall and fails to achieve either the depth or the emotional impact that would make us care more deeply about this fascinating public figure."

In the New York Times, one of the major issues at hand is Schwarzenegger's gauzy reflection on his own life: justifications for his sins, mythologizing of his triumphs, a lack of self-awareness despite surrounding himself with monuments to his accomplishments.

What Total Recall actually turns out to be is a puffy portrait of the author as master conniver," Janet Maslin says. "Nothing in his upward progress seems to have happened in an innocent way."


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