"Certainly things have changed," Diane Keaton says. "They always do."
Taking in what she describes as a sunny California morning looking out on the patio of her current Los Angeles home, Keaton's considering what's happened in her life since publishing 2014's Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty. In it, her second memoir, the Academy Award-winning actress and perennial style icon writes about her lifelong search for and appreciation of beauty.
She writes about discovering the difference between pretty and beautiful as a kid and considering where she fit in on that scale. A pretty dress or smile were perfectly fine, but beauty? Another level entirely.
From physical beauty to architectural, Keaton tackles it all while incorporating stories of her past beaus, her parents, and her children, Dexter and Duke. A noted preservationist and self-described serial home renovator, Keaton explores her love of architecture and preservation, going back to touring Southern California mid-century tract homes as a kid with her father, and her decision to build a new house from the ground up while toying with the idea of whether her temporary cookie-cutter home's neighborhood is ultimately a nicer setting.
"You know, frankly, there's many things that have remained the same," she says. "I'm still living in the house, and I'm still conjuring up my concerns about the neighborhood I live in and the dream house I am building."
These ideas of appreciating things as they age are juxtaposed with Keaton's upfront stories of her quest for outer beauty, insecurities, and decision to forgo plastic surgery as she ages. Whether it's going barefoot in public or taking a jog with a thermos of red wine, the memoir's peppered with oddball life tips that leave readers imagining what a Goop-like lifestyle site run by Keaton might look like -- and then wishing there were such a thing.
"I'm 69 now," Keaton says. "You collect memories, you collect thoughts, but you're often really pleased by life's simplicity -- just being part of a community and having friends."
In the book, she details her newfound and slightly unexpected sense of community in her neighborhood, how she doesn't pull curtains closed and relishes waving hello. However, it's temporary. She's in the midst of the lengthy process that is custom building a home. "It's a really great challenge, but I'm learning a lot," she says.
"I love residences, obviously, but I am not an architect," she says, laughing. "I don't know what i was thinking when I decided to do this -- but here I am."
Once complete, Keaton plans to write a book called The House That Pinterest Built, documenting the process and the inspiration for the home. An avid pinner (you can follow her boards at keatondiane), she pulled ideas and concepts from photos found on the site. "It's completely addictive for a person like me," she says.
Though it's her dream home, it's not the be-all, end-all of her real estate dreams. "I know Arizona and I love Arizona," she says. "And I've had fantasies about maybe buying a house in the Catalinas or in Tucson."
Keaton cites beautiful, unconventional people as equally inspiring. Among her fashion icons are Grace Coddington and Diana Vreeland, two women with unmistakable, unapologetic senses of style. She says pop culture figures like Rihanna, Lena Dunham, and Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City are women who inspire her.
"Last night I was watching Girls. I really cannot believe how [Lena Dunham] pushes the envelope. I cannot believe what I saw," she says of the episode "Water Birth," in which Gaby Hoffmann's character has a baby. "You just can't believe you're being privy to watching this on television -- naked breasts and butts and nipples. I'm going, I can't look at this! It was just amazing."
Keaton says, "We have so much more opportunity now to see things just randomly. Everything is there for us, and it's a really amazing gift."
And she's seemingly game to take in all of it. She mentions recently stumbling upon one of the Fast and Furious films airing on TV and being completely taken with the fact that there was so little dialog and so much engaging action.
"New ideas come, new feelings about this experience we're going through -- being alive," Keaton says, "I'm grateful to be here and moderately healthy. The experience of being older is very different than the experience of being younger. So the gratitude factor is up by about 85 percent."
Diane Keaton will sign copies of Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty at Mesa's Dobson High School at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 11. Two tickets to the event come with purchase of the book, which is available in paperback for $16. Visit Changing Hands' website or call 480-730-0205 for more information.
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