Archives for posts with tag: memoir

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.

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Genre: Memoir

Notes: 20/50 books.  Slightly funny throughout with some legitimately pee your pants hilarious moments.

Review: OMIGOSH I love Jenny Lawson.  I read her blog, thebloggess, regularly and snort with laughter as she describes her love affair with taxidermied animals, her relationship with her saint of a husband, and her wild country life in the Texas hills.

I love Jenny Lawson, but I probably wouldn’t be he friend.  Reading her blog is hilarious, but he book is slightly exhausting.  It’s totally manic, neurotic, and panicky.  She openly admits she has an anxiety disorder, struggles with depression, and a whole host of other issues like rheumatoid arthritis and gets her point across – it is tough living in Jenny Lawson’s head.  And you know what? I totally get that.  I also come across much better and put together over email, blog, or text.  I can come off as witty when I have a chance to think about my response whereas in person, I mostly just say awkward things.

So, some of these chapters tend to get overwhelming, but it keeps a pretty even keel of funny moments.  However, there are some moments that are legitimately hilarious.  One of my favorite chapters/stories is from her blog: Beyonce the Metal Chicken.  I had read this about a year earlier when my friend sent me the link – I almost spit coffee all over my office computer.  And the chapter where Jenny ate wayyyy too much Ex-Lax and she thought her cat was a rapist – that sounds weird typing it, but I cried reading that chapter.  Cried in a good way.

Basically, I don’t know if Jenny Lawson should have a whole novel.  Or, maybe, she just needs a better editor.  I think all of the material is there, but I’m not sure the execution is there.  Some of the chapters are pure genius (the chapter about the shit she dealt with in HR was amazing), but most of the chapters lack direction.  She creates great moments of hilarious-ness, but lacks a narrative thread.  It is mostly musings from Jenny Lawson which is perfect for a blog but less perfect for an entire book.

The thing I liked most about the book is the Jenny finally comes to the realization that weird is good.  Weird is interesting. (which might be her narrative thread, but it gets lost)  Nerdy people rule the world, and everyone is a little bit crazy.  I like to think I’ve embraced my nerdiness and have become more myself as I’ve gotten older, and I’ve rarely ever yearned to fit in. I mostly didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought by high school and did my own thing.  Being weird is cool! I feel like I’m going to tell this to my tween when she is 12 and she’s going to punch me. Regardless, weird > not weird.

After I read this book, I was drinking beer on a rooftop deck at the beach and the wind was making the can move a little.  I put my hand around the can, not touching it, and concentrated really hard.  When the can moved because of the wind again, I felt like a magician.  I promptly told my friends that I was a magician and offered absolutely no follow up or reasons why I felt like a magician.  I’m pretty sure they thought I was drunk, but it’s really just the Jenny Lawson Effect.

Bottom Line: Read this book.  It’s worth it!

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?