About 95% of the time, I find the book to be better than the movie. This wasn't the case here though -- as I liked the Brad Pitt movie version of the...moreAbout 95% of the time, I find the book to be better than the movie. This wasn't the case here though -- as I liked the Brad Pitt movie version of the book about 10x more than I enjoyed reading this. However, to be fair, the movie and the book bear little resemblance to each other. The book is a series of "interviews" with various people around the world who witnessed World War Z (the "zombie war"), where millions of people turn into undead killing machines. Although there are interesting parts, overall I was left uninspired and wanting more.(less)
Brief Description: Kilmer-Purcell’s first memoir (before the The Bucolic Plague) chronicles his days as a drag queen named Aqua and his doomed love af...moreBrief Description: Kilmer-Purcell’s first memoir (before the The Bucolic Plague) chronicles his days as a drag queen named Aqua and his doomed love affair with a crack addicted male escort who specializes in S&M. The relationship between Josh and his boyfriend Jack is the heart of the book, and it shines brightly before exploding into a supernova of pain, addiction and loss.
My Thoughts: Kilmer-Purcell seems to have lived enough lives to fill many memoirs. Although it was hard to reconcile the Josh in this book (alcoholic ad man by day and drag queen by night) with the bumbling but persevering gentleman farmer of his second memoir, his wickedly sense of humor and self-depreciation was instantly familiar. Frankly, I’m impressed that Josh survived the days chronicled in this book long enough to transform himself into one of the Beekman Boys. Although this memoir is often really funny and fascinating in a “let’s see how the other more flamboyant half” lives sort of way, it is also filled self-destructive behavior that I found both compelling and horrifying. (I must warn you that this book isn’t for everyone. If graphic descriptions of gay sex, S&M, or drug use offends your sensibilities, steer clear!) Although Jack and Josh don’t live anything near a conventional lifestyle, their love affair feels doomed in a tragic Romeo and Juliet sort of way. And just because the heart being broken belongs to a 6-foot drag queen who keeps live goldfish in his corset doesn’t make this story any less affecting, emotional or touching.(less)
This is a book I read every few years or so. The book basically consists of people from all walks of life talking about their jobs. The jobs run the f...moreThis is a book I read every few years or so. The book basically consists of people from all walks of life talking about their jobs. The jobs run the full gamut -- from Kinko's employee to actress (Debra Messing) to crime scene cleaners. Each interview has a unique voice depending on who is telling the story. You really get a glimpse inside each person's working world and their life. In my view, it is a more modern version of Studs Terkel's Working, which I just found too dated for my tastes.(less)
An insider’s look into the world of restaurant chefs, Kitchen Confidential is a blisteringly honest, eminently readable (unless curse words offend you...moreAn insider’s look into the world of restaurant chefs, Kitchen Confidential is a blisteringly honest, eminently readable (unless curse words offend you) and ultimately fascinating examination of what goes on in restaurant kitchens.
This was the book that put Anthony Bourdain on the map, and I can see why. He has a relatable, honest, profane, bawdy, amusing, intelligent, helpful, opinionated personality and he can write like a dream. His conversational writing style is a treat to read, and his strong personality infuses every page — just like truffle oil would infuse a … who am I kidding? I’m not a foodie so I have no idea what truffle oil might infuse. This book was awesome — filled with gossipy insider scoop, practical information (I know what kind of knife to buy now) and the personal history of one of the most interesting television chefs/personalities out there. Bourdain’s adventurousness and “why not try everything once” attitude may have been hell to live through but it makes a rollicking great memoir. A must read for anyone considering pursuing a career as a chef.(less)
The book is not about your conventional spiritual journey because Anne Lamott is anything but conventional. She writes with a directness and honesty t...moreThe book is not about your conventional spiritual journey because Anne Lamott is anything but conventional. She writes with a directness and honesty that makes this book intense and involving but also very funny. She grew up in an unconventional family and struggled with drugs, alcohol, and eating disorders before realizing that she might not live much longer if she continued on that path. In addition, she found herself pregnant and single. If there is ever a time when you need a spiritual awakening, it would be then. And Lamott found her spiritual home in a Christian church where she was "adopted" by the old African-American women of the congregation. Her stumbling toward a faith that works for her is the heart of this book, and I think it is all the more relatable because she puts herself out there -- warts and all. She has written several other books on faith that I haven't' read yet (Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith) but they are on the "to read" list.(less)
The subtitle to this book is "A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember." That pretty much sums it up. The author...moreThe subtitle to this book is "A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember." That pretty much sums it up. The author recounts his misadventures of a variety of jobs that are either low paying, extremely difficult or both. The author has a good sense of humor and sarcasm that make the book a good, fast read, but you also get the taste of what it is like to work some of these jobs -- including working a fishing boat in Alaska. I really enjoyed this book, and I know the author wrote a novel after this one so I hope he has finally broken out of his cycle of dead-end jobs and is making a living as a writer. One can only hope!(less)
After falling in love with Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collections (Unaccustomed Earth and The Interpreter of Maladies), I was curious to see what her...moreAfter falling in love with Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collections (Unaccustomed Earth and The Interpreter of Maladies), I was curious to see what her first novel was like. Turns out, it feels like an extended version of her short stories. Chronicling the Ganguli family’s immigration to America from India and their assimilation into their adopted country, the novel takes many of the themes from Lahiri’s short stories and bundles it into a long-form narrative. As always, the writing is spare, poetic and wondrous. I don’t think Lahiri could write badly if she tried.(less)
The title pretty much says it all, but it doesn't tell you how amazingly well-written this book is and how endearing the author, family and town is. I...moreThe title pretty much says it all, but it doesn't tell you how amazingly well-written this book is and how endearing the author, family and town is. I fell in love with this book when I first read it, and I reread it every few years just to revisit the world that Kimmel describes with such love. There is a follow-up book -- She Got Up Off The Couch -- that chronicles the author's mother's "radical" (for the times) college education and what she went through to get it.(less)
3 setting where the book took place or characters I met
* Setting: London, England, present day
* Jackson...more2 words that describe the book―Comedic Mystery
3 setting where the book took place or characters I met
* Setting: London, England, present day
* Jackson Brodie is an ex-cop turned private detective. He’s bitter about his recent divorce and his downgrade to part-time dad for his little girl Marlee. Yet despite the anger at his ex-wife and her new husband, Brodie is a softie. (He’s working pro bono trying to find a black cat with a most unfortunate name for an eccentric old widow.) He’s also quite attractive to the ladies―evidenced by the fact that several of his female clients are as interested in him romantically as they are in his services. But lately, Brodie has a bit of a problem―someone keeps trying to kill him.
* Brodie’s clients are a diverse bunch. We have the quarreling, eccentric pair of sisters, Amelia and Julia, who are seeking Brodie’s help in locating their beloved baby sister who disappeared mysteriously when she was only 3 years old. We also meet Theo―an overweight sad sack of a man who cannot move past the murder of his beloved daughter more than 10 years earlier by a killer who was never found. Finally, we meet a woman who wants to locate her long-lost sister―a woman with a past she wants to keep hidden at all costs.
4 things I liked or disliked about the book
* I liked how Atkinson structured the book. At the beginning, we’re presented with three case histories that tell us about crimes that were committed in 1970 (A Family Plot), 1994 (Just A Normal Day) and 1979 (Everything from Duty, Nothing from Love). Each case history is about 10 or so pages and plunges you directly into a story about a time when things went terribly, horribly wrong. Yet in just those few pages, Atkinson creates an amazingly detailed sketch of the dynamics and personalities involved. I was amazed how quickly I was drawn into these case histories―I wanted to know more! But then Atkinson introduces Jackson Brodie, and we begin to get involved with his life. At first, I was a little confused about what was happening, but once it started coming together, I fell in love with this approach. Along with Jackson, we keep finding out a bit more about each case history―with Atkinson writing each chapter from a different character’s point of view.
* Atkinson has a wonderful sense of humor that permeates the entire book. Despite stories dealing with sad and awful things, I found myself frequently laughing out loud. (In a way, the tone of the book reminded me of Catherine O’Flynn’s novels, What Was Lost and The News Where You Are.) I particularly got a kick out of the relationship between Julia and Amelia. The dynamics between those two were endlessly amusing. I love how Atkinson managed to write both a gripping mystery book while also taking the time to develop her characters and giving them personalities and lives. It makes a much more interesting read than just working your way through a heavily plotted mystery.
* I loved how Atkinson ended the book―particularly since it leaves the door wide open for a sequel (which, lucky for me, was already published as One Good Turn. And yes, I already have it!) I got quite attached to Jackson and some of the other characters so I was excited to learn that this wasn’t the end of line for them. Plus, Atkinson tosses Brodie a rather large bone that just opens up the possibilities for the second book.
* Although I like the realism of having a detective working multiple cases at once (just like it would be in real life), naturally some of the cases/story lines worked better for me than others. Of the three case histories, I thought the one dealing with Caroline was the least effective and compelling―most likely because it was the most isolated of the three stories and felt almost unresolved at the end. Yet it is minor complaint, and it shouldn’t really stop you from reading this book.
5 stars or less for my rating:
I’m giving the book 4.5 stars. I just loved this book to pieces. It isn’t often that you find a novel that skillfully weaves together several mysteries, presents a diverse array of interesting and flawed characters, and has just the right combination of humor and wit to make it a pleasure to read. This was an immensely satisfying read, and I’d highly recommend it to just about anyone! Kate Atkinson … come on down! You’ve just earned a place on my favorite author list!(less)
This is my second Jen Lancaster book, and I enjoyed it even more than the first one (Bitter Is the New Black). A rollicking memoir by a very funny but...moreThis is my second Jen Lancaster book, and I enjoyed it even more than the first one (Bitter Is the New Black). A rollicking memoir by a very funny but bitchy lady, Bright Lights, Big Ass is a bit more free-wheeling than her first memoir, and I think it suits her material and style better. And what style is that? Smart-assessedness mixed with lots of footnotes combined with superiority and leavened with a smidge of humility. It amazes me that someone who was born in the same year as me (1967) has been able to churn out at least four memoirs, all of which have more than 300 pages. Jen Lancaster can seemingly write about anything—the thrills and horrors of riding public transportation, the travails of dog ownership, neighbors, house-hunting—and make it fun to read about. It is also fun to read a memoir that is light and funny and is not about sad and disturbing stories of alcoholism or child abuse. Consider it memoir lite.
Excerpt about the appeal of Ikea: I don't care how rich or poor you are, the draw of purchasing twelve hundred tea lights for thirty-seven cents is too great for anyone to resist.
Book Overview I usually don't like to use the blurbs on the back of the book to do my story overviews, but the one on this book is just too good to pas...moreBook Overview I usually don't like to use the blurbs on the back of the book to do my story overviews, but the one on this book is just too good to pass up:
This is the story of how a haughty former sorority girl went from having a household income of almost a quarter of a million dollars to being evicted from a ghetto apartment. It's a modern Greek tragedy, as defined by Roger Dunkle in The Classical Origins of Western Culture: a story in which "the central character, called a tragic protagonist or hero, suffers some serious misfortune which is not accidental and therefore meaningless, but is significant in that the misfortune is logically connected." In other words, the bitch had it coming.
In many ways, this is a classic Greek tragedy -- if you use Greek in the sorority sense and tragedy in the sense of "spending and not saving leads to a complete change in lifestyle once the dot com boom falls apart." At the start of the book, Jen Lancaster is living the dream -- a well-paying job, a to-die-for apartment in a ritzy section of Chicago, a live-in boyfriend, Prada handbags, designer shoes, regular highlight appointments at a trendy salon -- in other words, the lifestyle that many bright young people enjoyed during the dot com craziness when money seemed to grow from trees.
Then things start to fall apart. First, Jen is laid off for reasons that remain somewhat murky -- but seem to be due to the fact that her boss doesn't care for her straight talk and competence. Seeing this as a minor blip, Jen doesn't realize the gravity of the situation at first. Surely someone as competent as her would be able to get another job easily. But the jobs seems to dry up overnight -- and not just the executive level jobs she's enjoyed in the past. All jobs. She can't even get hired for a retail position.
Despite her increasingly lower standards, no employment opportunities come her way -- despite daily efforts to locate another job. So she starts a blog (which I suspect was a rarity back in the good old days of 2003) and starts writing about her life and job search efforts. (Eventually, her smart ass comments about companies that reject her actually cost her a shot at a job.) The years go by and nothing appears. Money is getting tighter and tighter -- and her former lifestyle of "easy come, easy go" money begins to catch up to her. Selling her handbags on eBay barely stems the increasingly hard to meet rent payments. So Jen does what any good woman would do -- gets married in order to get lots of gifts!
Yet even the wedding doesn't pull her and her new husband Fletch out of an increasingly dire financial situation. They face the inevitable -- a move to a less expensive neighborhood. But then even Fletch loses his job and falls into depression. Things gets worse and worse, and they begin contemplating the unthinkable: moving in with the parents. But at the last moment, Fletch manages to secure a job. And, at long last, Jen finally receives a job offer and -- almost simultaneously -- inquiries about her writing. (Her blog Jennsylvania has grown quite popular and some publications and a literary agent take notice.) She faces a classic dilemma -- take the job that will offer financial security or pursue her dream of writing? What to do? What to do? The fact that Jen Lancaster just released her fourth book -- Pretty In Plaid -- answers this question nicely.
My Thoughts Putting aside my intense jealousy of her writing success and the fact that she "rose out of the blogosphere," I must admit that I loved this book. Jen Lancaster's writing style is funny, brash and in-your-face -- the reader can totally see why her blog became incredibly popular. And her use of footnotes must be admired -- I've never seen an author since Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius make such good use of this underused literary device. Treating herself almost as a larger than life protagonist, Jen Lancaster is a person you would want to hang out with -- but maybe not work for.
Her stories all have the ring of truth but come off as so dramatic and hysterical. She has a knack for self-depreciation mixed with smartassedness (not sure if that is really a word) that makes what might be a boring story in lesser hands turn into comedy gold. Her story of trying to discover which neighbor is stealing her Wall Street Journal is a stellar example of this. If a less talented writer had written it, it might go something like this:
Someone is taking my Wall Street Journal. I decide to find out who and set up a stakeout to find out. The guy in 3F seems like he might be the thief, but he takes USA Today instead. The lady with the big boobs from 2C walks right by. But seeing her drink her coffee reminds me I have to pee really bad as I've already had 6 cups of coffee.
In Jen Lancaster's hands, it sounds more like this:
Wait, I think I see something.....The guy in 3F has just left his apartment -- WHY DON'T YOU PICK UP THAT GODDAMNED TRASHBAG --and is heading down the catwalks. I grab the phone while holding the binoculars steady, fingers itching to dial 911. Aha! He's stopping to grab a paper! Thief! Thief! You are so busted, motherfu--Oh, damn. He took USA Today. At least that proves he's a moron. And I still really have to pee. However, I'll ignore the physical discomfort because I'm committed to seeing this through.
Uh-huh, here comes President Jugs out of 2C, bouncing down the stairs. Boing, boing, boing. She just bought an Audi convertible and still has her Mercedes. You'd think with all that extra cash she could afford a bra with decent support. She pauses to take a pull from her travel coffee mug. Oh, please don't drink that. Can't stand the idea of more liquid. Am crossing my legs at this point. But I must focus to catch this criminal. And jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, she's headed for my paper ... and walks right past it. She heads out the door and I see her drive away. So she's innocent. For now.
Let us all be happy Jen Lancaster decided to pursue writing instead of taking another high-paying corporate position. This way, we're all the richer for it ... not just her.
My Final Recommendation Fun and filled with attitude, this book is a fast read that will leave you wanting more -- good thing she wrote three other books after this one! And underneath all the humor, snarkiness and wit, there are some important reminders about what is really important in life -- and guess what, it isn't a Prada bag. I will definitely be reading more by this author. If you want to get a feel for Jen Lancaster, I recommend a visit to her blog Jennsylvania.(less)
1. She wrote the screenplay for Juno and won a screenwriting Oscar for it. 2. This summer, she wrote th...more3 Reasons You've Might Have Heard of Diablo Cody
1. She wrote the screenplay for Juno and won a screenwriting Oscar for it. 2. This summer, she wrote the screenplay for Jennifer's Body. It is doubtful she will win an Oscar for it. 3. She writes a column for Entertainment Weekly.
With that kind of resume, you may wonder why she was able to write a memoir about a year spent working as a stripper. Well, before she "hit it big," Ms. Cody was living in Minneapolis and working a "straight" job at an advertising agency. On a lark, she decided to strip at local strip club's amateur night to satisfy her curiosity about what it was like. The adrenaline rush (and the money) hooked her, and she ended up spending a year stripping at various clubs and working in a sex shop and as a phone sex worker.
5 Things I Learned About Being A Successful Stripper From This Book
1. Blondes get bigger tips so it is worthwhile investing in a wig. 2. Wear white for your stripping outfit. 3. Learn how to work the pole. 4. Pick your spotlight songs carefully. (Ms. Cody thoughtfully provides a list of good songs and bad songs to strip to in the book.) 5. Be prepared to sell more than lap dances. Many clubs expect you to sell a certain amount of drinks as well.
Ms. Cody is very candid about what it takes to be a stripper. She breaks down how the various clubs worked, explains the stripper hierarchy, describes what kind of strippers tend to earn the most, and offers (often hilarious) advice about the ins and outs of being a stripper. The book is very humorous and often very crude, and Ms. Cody doesn't take herself too seriously most of the time. It was a kick to get an inside glimpse at a world that most of us will never explore. The fact that Ms. Cody chose to pursue this lifestyle and wasn't forced into it makes a big difference as her story is one of a woman in control of what she is doing—not a woman who was forced by circumstances to pursue this line of work. Plus it helps that Ms. Cody is a darn good writer with a direct, conversational writing style. However, she didn't walk away from the experience completely unscathed.
3 Most Disturbing Things I Learned In the Book
1. There are really really disgusting freaky people in the world. (I guess I knew that but hearing about some of the people who would come into the sex shop where she worked toward the end of her stripping career was really disturbing. Really disturbing.) 2. If you strip for years, you'll probably end up with "hammertoes, coke-worn sinuses and intimacy disorders." 3. You cannot work in the sex industry without starting to lose some element of your humanity.
Her stripping career ends abruptly one day when she finds herself unable to stop crying. Allow her to explain:
"It wasn't the nudity or the grinding or any sex-phobic moral issue that was pinning me to my chair in a moment of blinding epiphany. It was actually the opposite. The one-on-one aspects of the industry made sense; it was the whole girls-in-bulk thing that repulsed me. Hundreds of girls on the floor at some clubs, all reduced to begging dogs for an army of smug little emperors. The rules of attraction were reversed at a strip club. Girls that could halt traffic at Nicollet Mall were rejected by fat guys wearing Zubaz. Joe Punchcard with $20 could toy with several dancers over the course of an afternoon, finally selecting the one who'd receive the dubious privilege of entertaining him for three and a half minutes. The rejected girls, regardless of how loved they were by husbands or paramours or infants at home, would feel worthless for an instant, and all because of ol' Joe. Those instances multiplied, and soon everyone felt like creeping crud, regardless of how much ego they projected."
3 Reasons To Read the Book
1. Diablo Cody has a conversational, honest writing style that is entertaining, funny and easy to read. 2. The book offers an inside glimpse into a world that not many people have experienced and written about. 3. You'll laugh out loud quite a few times.
3 Reasons Not To Read the Book
1. If explicit writing about sex and working in the sex industry isn't your thing. 2. If you are offended by the concept of strippers and strip clubs in general. 3. If you find bawdy, crude and explicit sex talk disturbing.
I really enjoyed this book and I'm giving it 4 stars. However, due to the subject matter, it isn't a book for everyone so I can't recommend it wholeheartedly. I suspect you already know if you want to read this book anyway.(less)
My dad gave me this book when I was growing up, and I thought it was absolutely hilarious. I later found out that a few of the stories from this book...moreMy dad gave me this book when I was growing up, and I thought it was absolutely hilarious. I later found out that a few of the stories from this book were turned into the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. Just a wonderfully written, hilarious account of growing up -- with a tall tale aspect to it that just elevates the stories to pure fun!(less)