The composer (Once Upon a Mattress) and children's book author (Freaky Friday) Mary Rodgers (1931-2014) had this to say of her decision to work on a syrupy television musical in the early 1960s: "In my defense, that was during the period when I would basically do anything. And that period has been my whole life." That whole life is on dazzling display in Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers, in which her more dispiriting undertakings are just as enthusiastically recollected as her sporadic but stratospheric triumphs.
The daughter of musical theater titan Richard Rodgers and decorator and inventor Dorothy, Mary Rodgers turns her clashes with her human-briar-patch-like mother into a sort of percussion that rumbles beneath Shy's more melodic memories. Shy is a treasure chest of goodies for fans of the New York performing arts world at mid-century and just beyond. Readers besotted with Old Broadway would probably inhale Rodgers's memoir no matter its quality, but Shy, written with theater critic Jesse Green (O Beautiful; The Velveteen Father), has the added bonus of being note-perfect. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer