Bought this as a gift for my husband years ago, and on a ride back from Asheville we had no iPod so we listened to it straight through. Baseball isn'tBought this as a gift for my husband years ago, and on a ride back from Asheville we had no iPod so we listened to it straight through. Baseball isn't my all-time favorite subject but there are some really great stories and poetry here - the stand outs for me were "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" by John Updike which recounts Updike's attendance at Ted Williams's final game and "The Thrill of the Grass," a short story by W.P. Kinsella. ...more
I've long been a fan of Rakoff and have read several of his books, so I jumped at the chance to read his uncollected maARC for review from NetGalley.
I've long been a fan of Rakoff and have read several of his books, so I jumped at the chance to read his uncollected materials (this volume also includes the standalone Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish which I've reviewed separately.
If this is your first experience with Rakoff, do yourself a favor and read one of his outstanding essay collections first, Fraud is probably my favorite. Since these are "uncollected" works, they, understandably, don't hang together in the same way his curated (if that's the right word) collections do - there's some definite unevenness and some I could have skipped altogether (like the investigation of the book Bambi and its author). However, if you are a Rakoff completist you'll be thrilled this book exists and will likely find some unread gems here, on things like the Rat Pack (in the wonderful "The Wizards of Id"), ending friendships, his thoughts about his recurrence of cancer and some interesting "Fresh Air" transcripts.
Some of my favorites:
"Goodbye to All of You" - "What 'suspiciously social' means is that I am perceived to know and maintain too many relationships with people. If one is friendly to everyone, one is friendly to no one. Of course, this is not actually true. I have a very significant core group of friends who, despite transoceanic migrations, etc., remain the most cohesive social network of my adult life. In fact, the bonds get stronger as my social world shrinks."
"The Wizards of Id" - "The Swingerati have ignored the gallery entirely and gone straight for the gift shop."
"Tweenage Wasteland" - "The schism is unmistakable: Threshold to Love for the girls, Body and Its Dangers for the boys; the peaceable but decidedly separate Kingdoms of Rainbows and Farts."
"David Rakoff's Half Empty Worldview Is Full of Wit" - "And it's a kind of negative thinking call defensive pessimism.....the defensive pessimist sort of looks at something and say this is going to be a disaster. And because of that, they lower their expectations,, and they think this is going to be a disaster because of such and such. And they go through all of the negative capacities....you know, you imagine the worst-case scenario you can, and you go through it step by step, and you dismantle those things and you manage your anxiety about it."
An eclectic mixture of essays, poetry and overheard subway/train conversations make up with amusing volume of Oliver's humor. He's notARC for review.
An eclectic mixture of essays, poetry and overheard subway/train conversations make up with amusing volume of Oliver's humor. He's not often laugh-out-loud funny, but any gay many who has worked in a Broadway theatre box office for eleven (?) years (how in the world does he afford to live in Manhattan, even Northern Manhattan, with no roommate on that salary?) has stories to tell, and he spills them, including the slightly depressing life that is texting and sexting on Skype, Grindr and probably three new apps that I won't have heard of from another six months. You'll really want Oliver to find love, but watching him fail can be entertaining. I don't know that I got a lot out of this book, but I enjoyed spending a few hours in Oliver's world. ...more
I must begin my review my my oft-repeated disclaimer that books by comedians are almost always better on audio versus the printed pageARC for review.
I must begin my review my my oft-repeated disclaimer that books by comedians are almost always better on audio versus the printed page (exceptions include Jon Stewart's America and any book that relies largely on illustrations). So, would I have liked this book better in audio version? Perhaps. But not much, I think.
I only know Brad Garrett from "Everybody Loves Raymond," to my knowledge I've never seen his stand up or seen any other show he's on. I wasn't a huge "Raymond" fan, but I've seen enough episodes that I know who the characters are. Based on this book, part autobiography, part essays about middle age, Garret (nee Gerstenfeld) was born in 1960 in the Bronx, making him a mere ten years older than me. However, he seems SO much older. Lots of jokes about his small penis, about being Jewish, about being tall and unathletic, about how he turned to comedy to avoid being bullied - there's not a standard "my road to comedy" trope that Garrett doesn't use here. He cites Don Rickles as his gold standard, and you can definitely see that - and it's not that Rickles is a bad comedian, I would just argue that he's a comedian for another generation. And look at who he talks about opening for - Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. Legends, certainly, but fading ones, even when Garrett was starting out.
Garrett has gotten some lucky breaks (met an agent early on, won "Star Search" and see above) but he also became a hardcore alcoholic. However, according to him, he just walked away and never touched it again, so there's not much of a rehabilitation story to be found here.
So, I'm trundling along reading this guy's not-too-memorable memoirs when it slaps me. Then again. Then againagainagain. Sure, he mentions pretty girls and the like, but then comes the line, "I feel grateful that my thirty-one year old girlfriend labors at the gym to keep her already great body in shape as I sit at home, writing this book and eating Fritos." Um, great. So, your girlfriend is twenty four years younger than you, but I guess that's not all that uncommon for Hollywood, so.....
But then I get to his description of meeting his wife, who was, at the time a cocktail waitress at a Las Vegas casino. This is the mother of his two children, two whom he dedicated the book. And, according to Garrett, "she smelled me coming a mile away." Note that he was no longer drinking at this point. I don't know that he ever uses the words "gold digger" but he makes his point clear and it's hard to respect someone who will treat the mother of his children so disrespectfully, as a "cocktail waitress from Pueblo" in such a public way. He's so very bitter about his divorce, or, really, the alimony he was forced to pay that he moves into a very painful comparison of a vagina to a credit card machine, with different variations depending on race. Yeah, I really hated this guy by the end.
There are some funny moments - on his first open mic night in L.A. he has the misfortune of going right after a new comic named Robin Williams, but Garrett needed to rid himself of some rancor through therapy before publishing this book. One of his children is a teenage girl named Hope. I hate the thought that she'll read these words someday. ...more
Here's yet another example of why I could never write a memoir. The hysterical Jenny Lawson was raised in a shack with anIf only for the title........
Here's yet another example of why I could never write a memoir. The hysterical Jenny Lawson was raised in a shack with an amateur(?) taxidermist as a dad. Kelly Oxford traveled anywhere at the drop of a hat and was perfectly willing to live like a gypsy. David Thorne goes to Tasmania because he can afford the ferry. I blame my lack of memoir-worthy experiences on my parents, who had the gall to raise me in a perfectly nice home in a small town in Virginia where nothing ever happened.
A quick test as to whether you will enjoy this book. I first came across David Thorne when someone posted http://www.27bslash6.com/missy.html maybe on Facebook. Go read it, then come back. I'll wait.
There were tears in my eyes when I read "Missy". I then spent some enjoyable hours on his website and had no idea he had published any sort of book until I was browsing the (generally useless) Kindle Free Lending Library (clearly I was bored...there is very seldom anything of interest there unless you are looking for about 400 variations on the theme of never loving a cowboy or forbidden Amish/English love. I haven't read any of them but I'm guessing there are broken hearts and horses involved. I wonder if there is a mash-up of the genre? If you ever fall in insta-love with an AMISH cowboy, run. He's going to catch you, though. Because, the horse.).
Obviously the title above caught my attention, and then I realized it was THAT David Thorne, of the cat poster. So I borrowed it for free, and I'm glad I did, even though this is not Thorne's funniest material. I will say, though that Thorne is one of the few humorists who I enjoy reading versus listening to a audiobook. I think Wanda Sykes is one of the funniest people on the planet, but reading her book wasn't the same as having her say the same words out loud. Thorne is just the opposite - probably funniest when read. There's some good stuff here. And free, on Kindle. ...more
Lots of essays from the funny, clever Caitlin Moran on any number of things - celebrity interviews, "Downton Abbey," late-night conveNew "purse" book.
Lots of essays from the funny, clever Caitlin Moran on any number of things - celebrity interviews, "Downton Abbey," late-night conversations with her husband, etc. She's the writer I would like to be. (read over a year's time so I don't have many specifics)...more
First, the title. I liked it, but then I LOVED it when I saw the whole thing (the Fire Island motto as told by Frank Corradino) in theARC for review.
First, the title. I liked it, but then I LOVED it when I saw the whole thing (the Fire Island motto as told by Frank Corradino) in the Acknowledgments section, "fork on the left, knife in the back, spoon in the nose, dish, dish, dish."
As for the book itself, It appears to be an accumulation of Musto's columns from the Village Voice (and does he not write for them anymore? He was an institution.) so some of it is quite dated and other parts go into long discussions of people and places that those outside the NYC party scene (of various decades) would know nothing about (for example there are so many mentions of Kiki and Herb I felt like they might be at my house). He also notes that this is his second collection so perhaps some of the best bits were in the earlier volume.
I'm guessing that pre-Internet blog/Perez Hilton that Musto was THE man about NYC and quite risque and he still knows how to pack a punch....sometimes with his incredibly frank discussions of sex (including a few too many mentions of his own penis), sometimes just with his wit, "Wynonna Judd had an eighty minute therapy session the other night, and since she billed it as a concert, I totally managed to be there to watch." He also must have been, at least in part, the inspiration for SNL's fabulous Stefon character as he snarkily reviews lots of nightclubs along with Broadway shows, parties and other happenings in and around the city.
If you are a fan of Musto or the NYC "scene" during the 1980s and early 90s, enjoy it in small batches. ...more
I will temper my not-so-great review by saying that in my experience if you want to truly enjoy books by comedians or comedic writers iARC for review.
I will temper my not-so-great review by saying that in my experience if you want to truly enjoy books by comedians or comedic writers it's best to get the audio version. There is definitely something hearing versus reading comedy. And I read this one. However, you CAN do it successfully (see Bossypants).
After reading that author Adam Resnick was a staff writer for "Late Night with David Letterman" and "Saturday Night Live" I had very high hopes for this book. I probably should have looked closer to see that his primary credits were as a writer on the movies "Cabin Boy" and "Death to Smoochy", both notorious duds. For me, this book fell into the "dud" category. Resnick is a misanthrope, but if he's a funny one, a la Lewis Black it doesn't come across in this set of essays covering portions of his childhood and his adult life (nothing substantial about his work). It just wasn't funny, and wasn't even clever. Disappointing. ...more
I adore Ann Patchett. I love her books. I love the story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy I love that when Nashville lost its bookstores she openedI adore Ann Patchett. I love her books. I love the story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy I love that when Nashville lost its bookstores she opened up an independent one of her own. I loved watching her interview with Stephen Colbert (if you haven't seen it, find it on YouTube). And I loved that in this book of her essays, all previously published, but all new to me, she touches on all those subjects as well as many others.
My book club decided to read this collection because we thought it would be a quick read (and it was) and because we've enjoyed Patchett's books so much she is the only author I can think of that, when she publishes something new, we always consider it and nearly always read it. Now, this is not a perfect book, but Patchett is an excellent writer and does non-fiction as well as she does fiction. I wasn't aware of her background as a magazine contributor, but it wasn't at all surprising to see that in both types of writing she visits many of the same themes generally very artfully. I loved that in the first few pages she mentioned her early work with Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family, one of my all-time favorite books.
OK, so some of the essays were a bit long for me (but she actually even touches on that, noting that her non-fiction was always a slave to the word count required by the publisher) but they were all good, some great (particular standouts for me were the story of her RV trip with her estranged partner, lifelong friendship with an elderly nun, her adult relationship with her grandmother (the reference to "picking up the horrible fried-fish planks from Captain D's she loved" (213) made me laugh out loud....I used to do the very same thing for my grandmother, only she preferred Long John Silver's) and her recounting of the controversy when [title: Truth and Beauty] was selected as Clemson's freshman class read).
And then, oh, the dog stories. Any animal lover will fall a little in love with Rose and I'm not ashamed to say I had the patented Oprah-ugly-cry while reading "Dog Without End" which is one of the most beautiful tributes I've ever read. My husband and I don't have children, but do have beloved dogs so I have lived through the same comments she and her husband receive, that dogs are just a placeholder (then, later, a substitute) for children and I love how she shuts down those "well-meaning" folk, describing exactly how I feel, "'Look at that,' people said, looking at me and not Rose. 'Look how badly she wants a baby.' A baby? I held up my dog for them to see, my bright, beautiful dog. 'A dog,' I said. 'I've always wanted a dog.' The truth is, I have no memory of ever wanting a baby. I have never peered longingly into someone else's stroller. I have, on occasions too numerous to list, bent down on the sidewalk to rub the ears of strange dogs, to whisper to them about their limpid eyes." (75-76). Exactly. And in one sentence she sums up my feelings about dogs with pedigrees (yes, I DO judge people who buy and don't adopt. I do. I try to be a better person than that, but then see the heartbreaking photos of pets nobody wants.) Rose was a "Parking Lot Dog, dropped off in a snowstorm to meet her fate" (77). There are way too many Parking Lot Roses out there - if we buy dogs and don't adopt from shelters or rescues, we are saying they aren't valuable enough to save. So, there's my PSA for the day.
However, my adoration for Patchett blossomed into something else when she compared her relationship with her grandmother to her relationship with Rose. When I lost my maternal grandmother (I was in my thirties) I explained it to my husband in the very same terms that Patchett uses - love for an elderly grandparent is often so similar to the love you have for your dogs, because it's so clear, so true and so unmarked by disappointment and constant change. I was just gutted an felt I was experiencing it again. I marked a lot more dog lines so I could save them for myself.
So, if you like Ann Patchett, read this. if you love essays or great magazine writing, read it. If you love dogs, read the dog essays, then read the whole thing.
A hodgepodge of reminiscing from Mr. Doonan (and, I suppose, the statutorily required amount of kissing Anna Wintour's ass - I'm guessiARC for review.
A hodgepodge of reminiscing from Mr. Doonan (and, I suppose, the statutorily required amount of kissing Anna Wintour's ass - I'm guessing there's some sort of word count requirement of praise in order to keep one's job in fashion), but entertaining (as I knew it would be within the first few pages by comparing two unlike things by saying they have as much in common as "Big Ange and Mrs. Petraeus" - and he even misspelled the general's wife's name, as he did TONS of his pop culture references (including Kardashian, J-Woww, Erma Bombeck and Snooki. Seriously, buddy, try Google before you send stuff off to the publisher), but love the "Mob Wives" reference). Lots of namedropping, lots of throwaway foreign phrases (and I'm not sure it would have been possible to work the word "maquillage" into a book once, much less five times) and a fair amount of fun for a few hours, especially for a "Project Runway" lover like myself. Or moi as Doonan would certainly prefer. ...more
If you are a Roach fan and are familiar with her style, this is exactly what you would expect when Roach is writing for Reader's DigestARC for review.
If you are a Roach fan and are familiar with her style, this is exactly what you would expect when Roach is writing for Reader's Digest, i.e. an older crowd. Lots of the standard husband/wife and aging drama that Roach manages to make funny in these bite-sized essays. Each essay is incredibly short, so it's a good choice for short attention spans.
My favorite lines - "From observing dozens of Before and After shots, I concluded that women are much better at applying makeup after they get veneers." and "God help me, I've entered the Age of the Skirted Swimwear. This is the age right after Accessorizing with Reading Glasses and a few years before Can't Name Anyone on the Radio."...more
I adore David Sedaris. I love that he included a story about the gifts he gives the people who attend his signings (he gaveKatie brought me her copy.
I adore David Sedaris. I love that he included a story about the gifts he gives the people who attend his signings (he gave me a black crayon penis...it was my birthday, so I got something special, he said). As always his autobiographical musings are great, if a bit gentler than they used to be. He's a bit less successful when he writes in the voice of someone else, especially since these entries are interspersed with the "David" chapters, so it takes a few sentences before you realize who is writing as (that said, I loved "If I Ruled the World, and I hope I didn't imagine the swipe at the horrible Elisabeth Hasselbeck).
Some of my favorite passages:
"His voice had snakes in it. And dysentery. And mangoes." (43)
"Childhood, for him, seemed something to be endured, passed through like a tiresome stretch of road. Ahead of this was the good stuff, and looking at him from time to time, at the way he had of staring off, of boring a hole into the horizon, you got the sense that he could not only imagine it but actually see it: this great grown-up life, waiting on the other side of sixteen." (60)
And this loses a bit outside the context, but, "At our first stop, a teenage girl in a school uniform got on and took the spot across from me. Deal with a kid her age today and the thought of her head winding up behind some shop counter in a plastic bag might not be all that troubling....It bothered me that the bag bothered me more than the head did, but what are you going to do? A person doesn't consciously choose what he focuses on. Those things choose you, and, once they do, nothing, it seems, can shake them." (186)
This wildly uneven collection of essays manages to average out to a high three stars. I loved "Upon this Rock" (Sullivan travels to an outdoor ChristiThis wildly uneven collection of essays manages to average out to a high three stars. I loved "Upon this Rock" (Sullivan travels to an outdoor Christian music festival and meets a group from Braxton County, West Virginia. He also notes "everything about Christianity can be justified within the context of Christian belief. That is, if you accept its terms. Once you do, your belief starts modifying the data (in ways that are themselves defensible), until eventually the data begin to reinforce belief. The precise moment of illogic is hard to isolate and may not exist....this is why you can never reason true Christians out of the faith. It's not, as the adage has it, because they were never reasoned into it-many were-it's that faith is a logical door which locks behind you. What looks like a line of thought is steadily warping into a circle, one that closes with you inside," (30) a quote which succinctly sums up every religious argument I've ever had with someone (or someone with me, I'm sure.)
For totally different reasons I also fell in love with "Unknown Bards" and I'm ready to spend the rest of my life wandering the back roads of Mississippi looking for single copies of lost 78 rpms. These were the only two essays I loved (I enjoy him more when he's looking from the outside in, versus writing about his own life), but I would certainly read more from Sullivan in the future. ...more
Read just after it was published since one of the three women profiled was Rachel Worby, then wife of then-Governor Gaston Caperton. As I recall she dRead just after it was published since one of the three women profiled was Rachel Worby, then wife of then-Governor Gaston Caperton. As I recall she didn't come across that well....more