(Stephen Holden’s article appeared in The New York Times, 6/19; via Pam Green.)
The singer Barbara Cook has a copy of her autobiography, “Then and Now: A Memoir,” propped up near her bed so she can look at it when she wakes up in the morning and marvel at its existence.
“I can’t believe it’s an actual book,” she said recently. Her collaborator on the memoir, Tom Santopietro, helped her organize the material, but she insists that she wrote every word, mostly by hand.
In its pages, she is frank about the steep ups and downs of a career that in her mind has had two acts: before and after recovery from alcoholism.
Sitting in a wheelchair near the piano in the living room of her elegant Upper West Side apartment, Ms. Cook, 88, said in a recent interview that she has been unable to walk for about a year. Wearing a black baseball cap, a loosefitting white shirt and no makeup, she was nonetheless a radiant presence, with twinkling blue eyes. What she conveys as powerfully as any other singer alive is empathy.