Landesman and son.

In his review in the Wednesday Oct 1st issue of The Spectator of Cosmo Landesman’s Starstruck: Unruly children as parents, Geordie Greig, cultural commentator editor of Tatler magazine, wrote:

If as a child you found your parents embarrassing then this hiss-and-tell memoir will make you feel a lot better, as Cosmo Landesman had parents who were off the Richter scale of embarrassment. Jay and Fran were two wacky, middle-aged American egotists who arrived in ‘the land of the stiff upper lip’ and caused mayhem. Blind to their own blush-making toxicity, they were obsessed with being famous.


Starstruck is a funny book in both senses. Landesman essentially skewers his mum and dad with his pen, but even this feeds their egotism. We learn that they revel in their son’s blame-game memoir, seeing it as a new and welcome platform from which to propel their ambitions. So the book is also a commentary on fame, celebrity and success, but not the success of being a loving parent, patient listener, supporter, cocooner or even moral guide. It highlights the emptiness of their interpretation: the pursuit of status.

I cannot claim to have read the whole of this book, but the extracts I have read, published in The Guardian and The Mail, did not strike me as being remotely funny. They are, in my book, as deeply as deeply unsettling about Cosmo’s writing as there is about the events they describe.

Cosmo’s parents may well be fame-hungry embarrassments to their son, but in writing about them in the way he has done, he shows that he’s quite capable of being as much an embarrassment to himself as they were to him.

Had he the wisdom to acknowledge it is Fan Landesman, not her son Cosmo, who wrote the lyrics to a dozen or so of the best popular songs of the last half-century, he might not have been so quick to publish.

Fran Landesman & Tommy Wolf’s portrait of ’50s bohemia, All the Fine Young Men, performed by the Sydney-born, New York resident,  Fiona McBain, at The Living Room NYC. Accompaniment is by Mike Visceglia  and the video by Anthony Pepitone.



One Response to “Landesman and son.”

  1. Landesman & (other) son, Miles. « Kevin Cryan online Says:

    […] & (other) son, Miles. Speaking of Fran Landesman, as I did yesterday,  I’ve just spotted that the one-time owner Crystal Palace Cabaret Theater, Gaslight Square, […]

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