January 10, 1994 12:00 PM

by Diana Ross

If the onetime lead singer of the Supremes, and the star of the movies like The Wiz, chooses to see herself as a sparrow, so be it. But other accounts of her life, notably by fellow Supreme Mary Wilson in Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme and J. Randy Taraborrelli in Call Her Miss Ross suggest a more predatory creature. Ornithological issues aside, Secrets of a Sparrow is self-serving, self-indulgent nonsense. It’s tempting to add “humorless” to the list, but that’s not quite accurate. After all, Ross does have a hilarious propensity for drawing parallels between world events—the Vietnam War or civil unrest of the ’60s, for example—and her life. Of course, to hear Ross tell it, every? incident in her life has mythic importance. “I guess this will destroy a lot of illusions,” she writes about the recording session for Someday We’ll Be Together, “but the girls [fellow Supremes Wilson and Florence Ballard] weren’t even at the session.” And while no one can argue about the good intentions that propelled Ross’s free Central Park concert 10 years ago—she wanted to gather corporate funding for a children’s playground—she writes about the event as though it were the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Sandwiched between Ross’s free verse (“a privacy/appears on the surface/ordinary and common/bearer of light/stand on the mountain/free in my thinking”) are revelations like “When I travel I love to be invited to use someone’s private plane because that way I can look funky. But that isn’t always possible. Sometimes I have to walk through public airports where people see me, and there is the expectation that I look a certain way. I have to be Diana Ross, the performer, the star, not Diana, the human being, the mother, the weary traveler.” The weary reader can cut to the chase by turning to “Lifeline: Music, Music, and More Music” at the end of the book for the exact dates of Ross’s appearances on Today, Good Morning America, The Barbara Walters Special and her presentation of the Record of the Year Grammy to Phil Collins. Lest we forget. (Villard, $22)

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