Film writer Kim Morgan reviewed Spurl’s edition of I Am Not Ashamed, by Barbara Payton. In her aptly titled essay “Notes from the Unashamed,” Morgan delves deep into Payton’s life and the book’s utterly unique writing style, comparing it to Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground:
Payton’s drunken ramblings and recollections (who knows how much are true or truer than you could ever imagine?) melding with Guild’s jazzed-up pulp speak becomes something of a minor masterpiece. A dime store (in the best sense of the term) Notes From Underground — the bellowing of the underground woman, telling us there is something wrong with her looks (and most certainly her liver), filled with regret, self doubt, black humor, pride and touching reassurance that it might work out one day knowing damn well it won’t. As she, via Guild, wrote with all the flavor of Horace McCoy: “Forever is just a weekend, more or less.”
Morgan later analyzes the role of Hollywood sexism in Payton’s demise:
But there’s a raw power to I Am Not Ashamed, that, even with and because of its questionable veracity, stuns with a harrowing account of that timeless struggle so many face in Hollywood — keeping a firm grip. And adding to the struggle — keeping a firm grip as a woman in Hollywood. The book works as real documentation of a downfall but also allegorical — mythic in its observations of just how hard some women can fall. And how much men can want women to fall. And how women can even embrace that fall. The shelf life of an actress was terrifying then, and terrifying now. Barbara’s demise reads like a horror movie for any actress losing one too many parts as time marches on. The roles are drying up. What to do? The world twists to make them seem a grotesque — Barbara actually became it.
It’s a compelling, tremendous review – enjoy!