It’s All in the Playing

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When a security guard gets drunk and disappears with the keys to a camera truck, an action which threatens to delay shooting, the first question in Shirley MacLaine’s mind is why she created that event. Fundamental to MacLaine’s metaphysics is that one is responsible for creating one’s own reality, that whatever happens in one’s life is part of a “script” one has written, a script that covers everything from colds to car accidents. This kind of awareness was especially acute for MacLaine during the filming of OUT ON A LIMB, since it is about the beginnings of her spiritual quest. So when the relentless rains of Machu Picchu make it impossible to shoot a scene, MacLaine’s metaphysics are put to the test. If she can create rain, then she can create sunshine as well. With the advice and talismans given to her by a Peruvian broujo (an Incan priest), MacLaine alters the energies and the skies clear.

Not everyone will like this book. To some, MacLaine’s unabashed sharing of conversations with trance channelers and past-life visions will read like an act of tremendous courage and generosity; to others it will seem the height of self-indulgence. Few, however, will say that the book is dull. Even without the references to extraterrestrial visitations and altered states, the book offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of television -- the personality conflicts, the intricacies of casting and dealing with network executives, and the difficulties of shooting on location in London, Sweden, and Peru. However polarizing her views, Maclaine does a skillful job of re-creating conversations and scenes.