Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

Published: Oct 19, 2012, 09:37 IST | Lindsay Pereira |

This much is hard to dispute: Arnold Schwarzenegger certainly has a story to tell. Part of this is because he is so ubiquitous a Hollywood star, and has been for many decades now.

Another part of this is the sheer scale of his ambitious climb from non English-speaking Austrian bodybuilder to award-winning American actor and governor of the world’s seventh largest economy. Keeping these facts in mind, the sub-title ‘My Unbelievably True Life Story’ is certainly apt.

What isn’t apt is the main title. It ought to have been Selective Recall. This is because much of what is printed could have been culled from a dozen fan sites on the burly actor that have existed for some time now. Much of his story has long lent itself to tabloid fodder, after all, so the lack of a truly surprising (and hitherto unknown) nugget of information rankles.

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Simon And Schuster, Rs 699

What makes things worse is the fact that his writing — and one must blame the ghost-writer for this, of course — often comes across as leaden, much like his stilted dialogue in a hundred odd action movies. The biography comes across as a long, rambling monologue, sprinkled with anecdotes featuring other famous people.

When he does refer to juicy gossip — his alleged groping of women, for instance — it is primarily to label it ‘untrue’ and offer half-hearted apologies for any possible bad behaviour. There are also a number of photographs, largely variations on Schwarzenegger showing off. The only hint of warmth in his personality comes when he is describing his former wife, Maria Shriver.

There are repeated claims of how much he respects her. Then again, as the tabloids have since revealed, he fathered an illegitimate child with the household maid. Recommended strictly for die-hard fans. For everyone else, his Wikipedia entry ought to suffice. 

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