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Only a handful of showbiz biographers can lay claim to posessing the literary acumen of writers like Michael Holroyd and Peter Ackroyd. Nick Tosches is one of these writers, and his unauthorized biography of Dean Martin stands as a testament to his genius. Several inimitable sequences in which Tosches adopts his subject's perspective (most of which are regrettably unsuitable for quotation here) make the book a real standout.
Dino is a fascinating portrait of a man who had it all--money, fame, women--and didn't give a damn about any of it and suggests that, even as he wallowed in the excesses of Hollywood and the Rat Pack, Martin stayed critically aloof from that world, albeit often in a booze-and-pill-addled haze. He got into showbiz precisely because it required so little effort of him: "I can't stand an actor or actress who tells me acting is hard work," he once said. "It's easy work. Anyone who says it is hard never had to stand on his feet all day dealing blackjack." Nobody could impress Martin. While Frank Sinatra would do anything just to hang out with reputed Mafioso, the Mob would have to make special trips to ask Martin in person to play a show at one of their casinos.
Tosches' portrait, written only a few years before Martin's death in 1996, depicts its subject as nothing so much as a Zen master without the spiritual anchor; after sampling everything that life had to offer and finding it lacking, Martin spent the last years of his life waiting to die in virtual seclusion. [via]