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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 02, 1992|KAREN STABINER

YOU SEE, I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN by Yves Montand with Herve Hamon and Patrick Rotman (Alfred A. Knopf: $25; 448 pp.) This biography of the legendary entertainer is so authorized that it's really a hybrid--part memoir, part extensively researched biography. Montand cooperated with the two Parisian journalists who wanted to tell his life story, but neither he nor they were interested in a ghostwritten memoir; Montand had already done one of those. The result is sometimes clumsy--the co-authors go to great and honorable pains to explain when Montand's recollections contradict other people's memories, or to unravel age-old myths about the entertainer that turn out to be false. But the material is endlessly fascinating, for Hamon and Rotman, unabashed admirers of their subject, are social historians as much as anything else, essential to the story of a man whose politics were so central to his life. If the reader can weed through some of the too-adoring passages--and the ellipses that are the consequence of Montand's participation and control--there is the engrossing story of an Italian peasant, a gawky, awkward kid who surprised everyone, including himself, the minute he stepped on stage.

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