n The Diary of a Professional Experiencer (that is not a typo), distinguished acting teacher Eric Morris steps away from his usual acting books (he's written five) to offer a detailed look into his less-than-compelling route from birth to acting guru. As someone familiar with Morris' fine earlier offerings, I can say he's not at his best in the memoir milieu.
Instead of illuminating how his life experiences led inexorably (or willy-nilly) to a fresh approach to acting (hinted at in the foreword), Morris offers interminable, non-acting-related recollections—one can't call them stories, as that would require beginnings, middles, and ends. The book meanders with almost no connection to the big picture: This thing happened after that thing and then, well, the story of Morris' life is told. It's a challenging read because he manages to be didactic and vague at the same time.
His reminiscences—especially of the years from childhood through his Army stint—are also relentlessly dour; a more accurate title might have been The Diary of a Professional Kvetch. Having a sense of humor about himself appears to be completely foreign.
On the bright side, countless acting anecdotes do pepper the text, even if they rarely hint at Morris' own frustrations at doing less than stellar work. By his own recollection, he was let go from no fewer than three acting jobs early in his career, yet he never considers that he might have been at least partly responsible for his canning. While Morris has been able to articulate his acting theories in previous books, the idea of cause and effect in his own life is never explored with anything resembling candor.
Morris' legions of fans will do better to wait for another book about acting. As an autobiographer, he's an inexperienced experiencer best left unexperienced.
Reviewed by Paul Haber