Book Review: ‘My Name is Barbra,’ by Barbra Streisand

MY NAME IS BARBRA, by Barbra Streisand

Hello, enormous.

Of course Barbra Streisand’s memoir, 10 years in the making if you don’t count the chapter she scribbled in longhand in the 1990s and then lost, was going to approach “Power Broker” proportions.

For one thing, she is — fits of insecurity notwithstanding — a bona fide power broker: tearing down barriers to and between Broadway, Hollywood, the recording industry and Washington, D.C., like Robert Moses on a demolition bender.

For another, as Streisand writes in “My Name Is Barbra,” a 970-page victory lap past all who ever doubted, diminished or dissed her, with lingering high fives for the many supporters, she does tend to agonize over the editing process.

After adding back material to her version of “A Star Is Born” for Netflix in 2018 — “I think I made it better. But did I? I’m never quite sure”— she fantasized about new, fuller cuts of both “Funny Girl,” which made her a movie star on arrival, and “Yentl,” her debut as director. Planning her wedding to the actor James Brolin in 1998, she tried to winnow down a long list of desserts before deciding “We’ll just have them all … why not?

It doesn’t take a psychiatrist — though Streisand, 81, has consulted many, played one in “The Prince of Tides” and even incorporated the therapeutic framework into one concert tour — to figure out why she has taken such a big bite out of life. As recounted before in a flotilla of biographies, none authorized (and at least one tell-all by an early roommate, who was promptly ghosted), she grew up deprived both economically and emotionally in a housing project in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Instead of a doll she carried a hot-water bottle — “I swear it felt more like a real baby than some cold doll” — for which a sympathetic neighbor knitted a pink hat and sweater.