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TUESDAY

Judy Garland’s life story, the ultimate show-biz crash-and-burn saga, makes talentless people feel that they have been blessed. Her prodigious gifts as singer, actress, hoofer, and raconteur scarcely compensated for an offstage existence that, as chronicled in Gerald Clarke’s ironically titled new biography, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland, was blighted almost from the cradle. Even more than in previous accounts, Garland emerges as a hapless victim, drugged by her exploitative mother and studio bosses and manipulated and betrayed by her husbands, lovers, and business associates. In reaction, she wallowed in substance abuse, made impossible demands of her family and friends, and resorted to suicide attempts, real and feigned, when her will did not prevail. Clarke incorporates a considerable amount of previously unrevealed material into his 424 pages of text and 68 pages of annotation, so masochists desiring yet another slog through the swamp of Garland’s misery will want to attend his appearance at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Joel E. Siegel)