October 23, 2000 12:00 PM

A Personal Odyssey

by Marsha Mason

In the ’70s and early ’80s, the author was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, garnering four Best Actress Oscar nominations. Three of those were for films—The Goodbye Girl, Chapter Two and Only When I Laugh—written by Neil Simon, the man Mason married in 1973 after a 22-day courtship and who, out of the blue, filed for divorce from her 10 years later. In her diverting autobiography, Mason doesn’t hide the fact that she’s still haunted by that trauma. Nor does she shrink from revealing that in 1991—her leading-lady days well behind her—she sometimes drove while sipping beer or wine.

Mason, now 58 and a medicinal herb farmer in New Mexico, also tells us about a fling with ballplayer Keith Hernandez and her love of race cars. But the heart of the book is Mason’s attempt to come to grips with her frosty St. Louis upbringing and how it colored her life. In those passages, she exhibits the very vulnerability that won her acclaim on the screen. (Simon & Schuster, $25)

Bottom Line: Marsha, we hardly knew ya

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