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Ostensibly, the magazine figured Parker had some ideas, given that in 2003, her longtime boyfriend Billy Crudup famously dumped her—when she was seven months pregnant—for his younger costar Claire Danes, otherwise known as one of the dickiest dick moves in history.
Parker wasn't going to write about that (she has never commented publicly on the subject, and she and Crudup continue to co-parent their son, Will, now 11), but it turned out she had a lot to say on the subject of masculinity."I was always really pulled to what is really, really male, sort of enthralled by a lot of it," she says now, folding her legs up underneath her.
If anyone is hoping that this book "finally reveals what a dick Billy Crudup was," as one website put it, they'll be disappointed. " There is, she points out, only "one meanspirited line, and I'm not going to tell you what it is." (A guess: "Having sex with you was like making snow angels under a rhino.")When she does address the Crudup incident, it's in a letter apologizing for shrieking at a cabdriver—"I am pregnant and alone! "I caused your turban to pop loose from its foundation and that was extreme," she writes. There are letters to a drag-queen friend, her gay childhood priest, one of the goats.
The main inspiration for the book, and its emotional center, though, is her father, John, who died in 2010.
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Parker spent some of her childhood on army bases, and they were living in Thailand when her father decided he'd seen enough death and destruction.Throughout her life, Parker says, she has had a habit of flying headfirst into relationships and getting her beak smashed."I think it had a lot to do with mistakenly idolizing people, or having an improper investment in somebody else's happiness and well-being—as though that was my fucking responsibility—because I think you stand by somebody who is difficult because underneath it all, they would stand by you and would die for you, literally. Instead, I just stood by people and that didn't happen." In her telling, as Parker's father got older, he not only mellowed out but also became almost enlightened: a model father and husband, the kind she'd want for herself. "To end up somewhere very neatly in some nuclear family.So there's this bird up at Mary-Louise Parker's farmhouse in upstate New York. "This cow just died on my lawn," she said, out of nowhere. Funny, heartbreaking, and profound, they're little character sketches through which the author's personality gradually emerges, like a lost-wax casting."And it keeps flying into the same fucking spot in the window," the actress says on a summer afternoon at her apartment in Brooklyn, planting her feet in the plush rug and gazing out the wall of windows, as though expecting the bird to be out there now, circling her penthouse aerie.! Which led to the subject of the window-smashing bird, and a sad story about the miniature dwarf goats she'd gotten on the advice of John Malkovich, one of which died of a brain tumor last year. The idea grew out of a piece Parker wrote for a few years ago, her advice about how to be a better man.
There are passing references to a designer friend scaring up a last-minute dress for the Emmys, and the chapter "Dear Abraham" tells the touching story of her first meeting with her longtime accountant.