Archives for posts with tag: Comedy

mindy kalingGenre: Nonfiction, Humor, Essays

Notes: Book 1/50.  I want to hang out with Mindy Kaling

Review: Mindy Kaling is adorable in an “I’m a (mostly) respectful daughter of Indian immigrant parents, I don’t do drugs and didn’t drink in high school, and come from a place that any awkward girl can identify.” In case you don’t know who Kaling is, she is a writer on The Office and also plays Kelly Kapoor in the show. She also writes and stars in her own show The Mindy Project. Mindy seems so refreshingly real and a welcome break from more generic celebrities who fit the mold of what America finds desirable and attractive. As sad as it is, most women who are hilariously funny find themselves behind the camera more often than in front of it if they don’t fit the standard of American beauty. You know, size 2, petite, pretty face, etc. I mean, Tina Fey had to lose like 30 pounds before she could get on television (even though Liz Lemon on 30 Rock fantasizes about food and eats like shit and should NOT be as skinny as she is, but that’s a rant for another day), but Mindy somehow snuck her way onto television without us taking a ton of notice or shouting “Hey! She’s breaking those norms!” I mean, really, she’s a pretty woman who probably fits the average American woman’s body. She’s a size 8. I’m a size 8. But compared to the twiglets in Hollywood, she probably feels like a bloated whale who is always stuck in a navy blue dress. (Which is apparently the color they dress anyone over a size 4 in because someone decided it was flattering)

This book isn’t Bossypants, but it’s a fun, quick read about someone who has been wildly successful in Hollywood as a writer and actress. Kaling makes you feel like anything is possible as long as you just keep at it. The way Kaling tells it, it took one super successful entry into the International Fringe Festival to get her noticed and get a spot as one of the writers on The Office. She embodies the American Dream because he parents immigrated from India to give their children a better life here and what immigrant parents doesn’t harbor the desire that their child will become a star in America? (Or a doctor or lawyer more likely) She provides an interesting narrative on what it means to grow up Indian in America and not quite fit into the WASP-y American ideal as a child. (The school pictures she includes in the book are priceless). However, I think Kaling barely skims the surface on what could be a deeper discussion about the lack of diversity in Hollywood or not fitting into the standard body in Hollywood. It’s not my book (obviously), and I’m sure Kaling skirted around those topics for a reason.

Bottom Line: This book is cute, funny, and light. It takes all of a day or so to read so if you’re looking for something to read on a plane or on a lazy Sunday, this is the book for you.

Genre: Memoir

Notes: A total mess.  If half the stuff in this memoir is true, I don’t know how Augusten Burroughs functions as a human being.  Much less a successful human being who doesn’t live in a mental institution with padded walls.

Review: This story is insane.  I never watched the movie, but I would imagine the movie is a little lighter and a little easier to digest.  The novel made me a little disturbed, a little disgusted, and a little bad for laughing at a clearly desperate situation.

Augusten Burroughs grows up in what can only be described as the strangest circumstances.  True stories are the best stories, because you couldn’t make this stuff up.  As a young boy, Augusten lived with his parents who fought constantly with a mother who thought herself an important poet.  In a weird turn of events, his parents divorced and Augusten’s mother signed custody of him over to her psychiatrist who lived in a dilapidated house with no rules and lots of heathen, barbarian children.

Here is just a taste: The psychiatrist believed that God was attempting to communicate with him through his bowel movements.  When he pooped, be trooped the whole family to view the toilet and decipher the message from God.

Augusten began a relationship with a man 15 years older than him at age 14.

The psychiatrist’s wife eats dog food as a snack.

And it continues like that.  Without stopping.  This whole book had my mouth hanging open half of the time – but I’m not willing to believe it is all true, even if it has memoir stamped onto the cover.  Like, really?  I’m sorry, but no.  Maybe the gist of the story is intact, but I have to believe most of this has some embellishment.

Bottom Line: It’s a quick read, so if you’re looking for something to read on a plane or on vacation, this is a good one.  Plus you can talk about how ridiculous it is and give me your opinion.  Fiction or nonfiction?

Genre: Fiction, War

Notes: I tried to read this in high school and failed.  Decided it was worth a second shot..

Review:  And I failed again.  Sue me, world, I don’t like Catch 22!  Yes, I understand that it redefined American war novels.  And yes, it even added a word to American slang.  But, honestly, I just didn’t like the characters.  I didn’t care about any of them, and I didn’t even care to see where it ended.  I gave this book 125 pages, but I don’t push myself to read books I don’t like.  I’m not in school anymore.

It seems like you either love or hate this book.  I wanted to love it, I really did.  I really tried!  But mehh.

On to the next one!

Bottom Line: I think if you like the American War novel and prefer kind of a liberal twist, this book would speak to you.  But it just didn’t speak to me!

Genre: Memoir, Non-fiction, Humor

Notes: I want to grow up and be Tina Fey.  WARNING: Reading this book in public will result in weird looks from strangers.  I read this on the bus back from Philly and the guy sitting next to me kept staring at me because I was cracking up.

Review: Tina Fey, I love you.

Bossypants is hilarious.  Laughter will ensue.  I feel Tina Fey is, first and foremost, a writer.  And a good one at that.  This book has comedic timing, interesting comparisons, and didn’t slow down.  I finished in about three hours.

While “Bossypants” probably started as a critical look at women in a male-dominated field like comedy, there was less feminist text and more “this is really Tina Fey’s life” chapters.  It is amazing one person can do so much – and have kids.  Sheesh.  If you do want to read a serious book and wish Tina Fey would stop being Liz Lemon for five seconds, don’t bother reading this book.  It is full of references to bad outfit choices and food – pure Lemon style.

“Bossypants” won’t teach aspiring writers or actors how to “make it.”  It won’t tell you how to edit your own work, how to get a job (although it will tell you not to ever finish a sentence for Lorne Michaels), or how to achieve work-life balance.  But it will show you that a good personality and  the ability to make fun of yourself will take you far.  Pretty might get you to the door, but personality and humor will help you kick it in.

Speaking of pretty, one of her best chapters (after talking about weird body image, her un-pretty days, and how she looked different from all of the blonde girls at UVA) is a remarkable defense of the use of Photoshop.  Yeah, defense.  Fey acknowledges that sometimes she wonders if it leads to negative body image for young girls, but also maintains that only people over 70 are actually fooled by Photoshop.   The rest of us know that model has tons of makeup on and Photoshop erased her armpit stubble as well as the bits of fat poking out of her swim suit.  We don’t think she looks that perfect.  Because everyone knows about the wonders and evils of Photoshop.  I know if one day I ever make it on to a magazine or book cover, I will advocate the use of Photoshop.  Like Fey says, I want the camera to look like it caught me on my best day.  I don’t want to look different, I just want to look put together.

Fey’s book pays homage to her roots in Second City, SNL, and 30 Rock.  She discusses the double standard that women in comedy still face, but feels the big women in comedy (Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph) constantly work to level the playing field.

One of the best chapters probed the dynamics of Fey impersonating Palin and Poehler impersonating Clinton on SNL during the election season.   Many men (and women) felt the sketches were needlessly negative of Palin and Fey wasn’t being “ladylike.”  But no one felt that SNL’s impersonations of past presidents (Clinton and Bush) were needlessly negative. Was it because men were impersonating men?  Fey addressed the outrage very succinctly.  “I am not mean and Sarah Palin is not fragile.  To imply otherwise is a disservice to us both.” To read Fey’s point of view and how she perceived the sexism is fascinating.

Bottom Line: If you like Fey, read this book.  Her snark shines through the pages and makes you laugh.  And it includes pictures!

In A Nutshell

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit, Mystery Romance
  • Notes: Perfect books to bring to the beach and get lost in – or – perfect books to give your brain a break from super serious books.
  • Recommended for: People who like their romance with fun, laughter, smut, and a little mystery to stir things up.
Cotton candy has its place on the food chain, just as these books do . . . There are books we read to grow as human beings, books we read to gather knowledge and reflect on our own choices or to help influence our future decisions. These books are important and necessary to the growth of our mind and continuing development of our collective consciousness. But just like eating healthy is vital, there are times when it’s completely appropriate to pick out the food that has zero nutritional value and will give you cavities in excess.
That is why I compare these Victoria Dahl books to cotton candy – they are super sweet, light, they keep you interested, but you know that all you’re gaining from them is a good time.
I’m reviewing these two together because they are written in the same town and the characters intermingle between books. That and I almost wish she had combined these two books into a compilation book. I literally finished both in 2 nights.
The premise for Talk Me Down is as follows:
Molly Jenkins has one naughty little secret: her job as a bestselling erotic fiction author. Until her inspiration runs dry—thanks to a creepy ex—and it’s time to skip town and move back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.One look at former high school hunk chief of police Ben Lawson and Molly is back in business. The town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse still, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straight-laced Ben will definitely not approve.…

Right off the bat I have to say, what really kept me into this book was how funny Molly was. She’s a hilarious character to read about. I would say she’s like a more savvy Bridget Jones– or more shameless. I really love reading characters like her – because I would never do some of the things she does. But that’s why I’m an escapist reader. I liked Ben too, in his straight-laced-avoids-scandals way. He’s the cautious hot guy – that doesn’t exist in real life but whatever.

The premise for Start Me Up is below:

Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she’d stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex…and lots of it.

Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain—not love and romance. A serious architect, he’s delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori’s bedside table, he’s busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn’s protective instincts kick in.

Suddenly he cares. More than either of them ever expected….

I didn’t expect that this story could be much different from the previous, and as far as the overall story structure – there is clearly a formula. But as Nora Roberts will tell you – formulas work.

Once again, Dahl got me with her characters. I loved them. I really liked Lori, who had to sacrifice so much and yet holds herself back. Her dilemma was so real and relatable. Choices are hard when you know you could make a mistake. Quinn is a serious architect who gets overly involved in his work sometimes and forgets the rest of the world. I was afraid Dahl would make it so that Lori cured him of this affliction – which I would find hard to believe. But what she chose to do instead was have it so that Lori wasn’t bothered by it, she accepted it. That is something I find refreshing in a romance novel.

So many authors make it so that the Heroine reforms the rake – what does that even mean? I mean, should you be involved with someone if all you want to do is change them? There is a difference between becoming a better person and changing people. This made the book a refreshing take on a contemporary relationship.

You may ask why I would even recommend such a light and fluffy confection – well I’ll tell you. Both of Dahl’s books (and a third that I am currently reading called Lead Me On) elevate themselves from simple romances by adding a little drama in the form of mystery. For Molly – she has a stalker, one which I dare you to guess who it was in the end. That one really got me, I thought the answer was so obvious, but Dahl has some tricks up her sleeve.

For Lori – she has mysterious vandals destroying her shop, one incident puts her in the hospital. And that drama goes somewhere I didn’t think it would either.

These books are pure fun and I felt like I just swallowed them up in two bites. Remember, they aren’t the next great american novel, but I was looking for something light and silly that I could read and go back to my nutritious reading. Sometimes your brain needs some sugar. So if it sounds good to you: treat yourself!

★★★