First of all, if you are one of seven people in the world who hasn't yet listened to Tig Notaro's famous set from Largo, go do that right now.
If youFirst of all, if you are one of seven people in the world who hasn't yet listened to Tig Notaro's famous set from Largo, go do that right now.
If you know anything at all about Tig Notaro, it's that 2012 was an absolute shit year for her. She was diagnosed with an aggressive bacterial infection called c. Diff that more or less ate her intestines. As soon as she got out of the hospital, but before she had really recovered, she received a phone call from her stepfather that her mom had fallen, hit her head on a coffee table, and wasn't going to survive. She traveled home to Texas to say goodbye and attend the funeral, then went back to LA just in time for her relationship with her girlfriend to dissolve. Then, she discovered a lump in her breast.
She went in for a biopsy and was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She required surgery as soon as possible.
Oddly, all of this terrible, terrible stuff led to perhaps the biggest moment of her career as a stand-up. A week after the cancer diagnosis, she had been scheduled to perform a stand-up set at the Largo in LA. Instead of canceling the show, she got up there and announced to everyone, "Good evening, hello, I have cancer." It was widely considered a groundbreaking, revolutionary thing. She just got up on stage and cracked jokes about all the terrible things she'd gone through over the previous 4 months. It was wry and self-deprecating and a little angry and confused, but touching and funny and wonderful.
Louis CK--who was at a professional peak of his own at the time--raved about the set on Twitter and before Tig had even woken up the next day, news of the show had gone viral and she was an instant sensation. In the three and a half years since then, I feel like Tig Notaro is everywhere. She sold the recording of that set, which became one of the fastest selling comedy albums of all time and was nominated for a Grammy. Her stand-up tours started selling out bigger venues than ever before. She was interviewed in nearly every media outlet you could name, she made a documentary for Netflix, an HBO special, a Showtime special, and now a show on Amazon Prime...and a memoir. Tah-da!!
I adore Tig Notaro. I discovered her just as her profile was starting to rise, when she appeared on a special live edition of This American Life that broadcast in movie theaters in the summer of 2012. This was post-c. diff, post-death, but pre-cancer. In what's become one of her most famous bits, she told the story of the many times that she's bumped into pop star Taylor Dayne. It's silly and absurd, told in a signature deadpan style with lots of awkward pauses that I love. From that moment on, I was a fan and I was really excited to see her blow up.
In fact, one of the proudest moments of my life is the time that Tig Notaro made fun of my giggle during a stand-up set in Arlington, VA, after a bit about her breasts retaliating for years of making jokes at their expense.
So, yeah, I knew I was going to have to read this book and I was suuuuuuper excited when I saw that it was available on Edelweiss. If I'm 100% honest, I was maybe a smidge disappointed that this book primarily rehashes all the stuff that I learned from the Largo set, the multitude of interviews, the documentary. It wasn't as laugh out loud funny as I expected it to be (though I think this might be worth checking out on audiobook if she reads it herself), but she still tells her story with warmth and insight and humor. It was familiar but still moving, this intense yo-yo that's been this woman's life over the last few years.
If you haven't done so yet, take the time to catch up on her stand-up on YouTube, watch her Amazon pilot and her HBO special, and definitely, definitely, definitely watch this heartbreaking video from her appearance on The Moth (which also factors into the book). And if you're not yet tired of Tig Notaro, then pick up this book this summer. It might be treading some familiar water, but it's still thoroughly enjoyable and engaging water....more
This is a fun, informative examination into the life of one of my personal heroes. It doesn't give the kind of depth that an academic bio would providThis is a fun, informative examination into the life of one of my personal heroes. It doesn't give the kind of depth that an academic bio would provide, but it gets the job done with humor and admiration.
Now there's a coloring book, so I guess I'm gonna have to jump on that trend: ...more
I waffled back and forth over whether to give this three stars or four. I'm giving it three because while it was mostly an engaging story, I was increI waffled back and forth over whether to give this three stars or four. I'm giving it three because while it was mostly an engaging story, I was incredibly disappointed that there was little in the way of an epilogue. I'm going to think about it a little more before I write a full review. ...more
I adore Dave Holmes, but I also have a confession to make. Even though I’m exactly the right age, he wasn’t a fixture of my teenage years because we wI adore Dave Holmes, but I also have a confession to make. Even though I’m exactly the right age, he wasn’t a fixture of my teenage years because we weren’t allowed to have cable while I was growing up, and my exposure to MTV was more or less limited to the handful of times that my brother and I could sneak off to the basement during visits to my grandmother.
So I guess I’m a little bit of a Johnny-Come-Lately here, but I mostly became re-introduced to Dave through his appearances on VH1’s various I Love the ____s incarnations and his Somewhere in Time columns for Vulture, which were the fucking best. They captured Buzzfeed-style decade nostalgia the right way, remembering what the music meant to us back in the day without being disingenuous or saccharine. I miss them terribly now that he's moved over to Esquire to write primarily about politics and LGBT concerns. I mean, good for him. He's good at that, too, but I could read him talk about pop culture all day, no matter how inane. Take, for example, his reaction to watching a 1991 Sizzler ad.
The subtitle of this book is maybe a little misleading, because even though the chapters are each titled after a notable song that corresponded to the era, the chapters themselves didn’t necessarily reflect on the songs themselves the way I expected. It’s really just a series of essays reflecting on significant moments from his life, ranging from the time that he tried to go as a punk rocker for Halloween by donning a sequined pantsuit-beret combo taken from a neighborhood mom (“a solid 70 percent of houses guessed that I was dressed as a fancy pimp. Whatever—I still got candy.”) to his experience coming out as an undergrad at a Catholic college that probably wasn’t the right fit for him to his MTV audition and his decision to leave New York after 9/11. Music is a pretty constant presence throughout, as it’s long been the tool that Dave’s used to orient himself in the world, referring to pop culture as “the most powerful stimulant known to humankind.” I think a lot of us feel the same way, we just haven’t been able to turn that into any kind of sustainable career.
This book hit all the right notes for me—I howled with laughter and I got a little teary eyed. He strikes exactly the right balance between self-deprecation without self-pity, insightful personal reflection and growth without preaching overwrought Life Lessons, and just enough detail of life at MTV without obnoxious, gossipy name-dropping. It's incredibly relatable and pretty much exactly what I'd hoped it would be. I think it’ll appeal to just about anyone out there who loved those Vulture columns or anyone with a mean late 80s or 90s nostalgia streak (my God, he made me wish I’d been born about 8 years earlier so that I could have more fully appreciated 1994). Even if celebrity memoirs aren’t your thing, this one’s worth checking out. ...more
I've never been into presidential biographies, but I'm absolutely obsessed with the musical Hamilton and it's making me want to read more RevolutionarI've never been into presidential biographies, but I'm absolutely obsessed with the musical Hamilton and it's making me want to read more Revolutionary-era histories. ...more
I usually hate the “X meets Y” descriptors of things, but the Gossip Girl meets Six Feet Under description of this is pretty spot on. Elizabeth MeyerI usually hate the “X meets Y” descriptors of things, but the Gossip Girl meets Six Feet Under description of this is pretty spot on. Elizabeth Meyer grew up in a privileged environment on the Upper East Side. Her father died when she was 24 and shortly after she decided to ask for a job at the upscale funeral home where his service had been held. Her uber-wealthy family and friends thought it was kind of weird and embarrassing, and her new coworkers assume that she’s an entitled, naïve brat. But over time, she discovers that she’s good at planning over-the-top funerals for incredibly rich people with no budgets.
This book is well-written (I’ll keep an eye out for the ghost writer’s future works) and there are brief moment of insight, but Meyer’s tone sometimes seems a little humble-braggy, a little name-droppy. She spends a lot of time talking about her troubles with other employees of the funeral home who treat her poorly based on the assumption that she’s a little rich girl who doesn’t belong but always gets her way. The way that the employees treated her was pretty awful (gossipy, catty kind of things), but Meyer really talks shit about these employees, too, and that sometimes comes across as a little “I’m so much better at this job than anyone else here.”
And never for a moment does she let us forget just how high-society she is. She has to mention her Gucci shoes, her Dean & Deluca lattes, the time she partied with Vince Vaughn. There are some brief moments of insight here and there, and I got the distinct impression that she doesn't want to be thought of as that kind of person. But she really does come across as that kind of person. I didn't find her very likable.
Meyer mention in the afterword that her ultimate goal is to make death seem less scary, now that she’s a licensed funeral director in her own right. That reminds me a lot of Caitlin Doughty’s goals with Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of that kind of thing in this book and I found that disappointing. This books lacks the kind of passion (a zest for death, perhaps?) that made Smoke so damn fascinating and endearing to me. 98% of Mourning is “You won’t believe what happened at this one funeral” kind of things. It doesn’t really have the behind-the-scenes meat that I was hoping for or the thoughtful reflections on grief and life. It’s worth reading if you’re into the stories of wacky rich people demanding absurd things, but I’d recommend Doughty if you’re looking for some more depth.
A thoughtful exploration of what it's like to learn a new language as an adult. This was beautifully written and I'd happily recommend to fans of LahiA thoughtful exploration of what it's like to learn a new language as an adult. This was beautifully written and I'd happily recommend to fans of Lahiri and/or linguistics, though there was little that resonated much for me personally. ...more