Craig Mullaney's memoir reveals such a personable and erudite young man. His experiences are told with humour and great humility, despite his rather eCraig Mullaney's memoir reveals such a personable and erudite young man. His experiences are told with humour and great humility, despite his rather extraordinary achievements. There is also a lot of pain in this book, from the loss of his men in battle to the loss of his father through estrangement; only one of these feels fairly resolved by the end, and understandably so. Also of interest is the way in which Mullaney immerses himself in Hindu culture out of both intellectual interest and love for his wife, and seems to mesh this well with his unshaken Catholic faith.
As when reading the work of his contemporary Nathaniel Fick, I could not help but think that if not the world but at least most of the military in the world were staffed by fellows like them, I would feel a lot better....more
I have two complaints about this book. The first is that I didn't bloody well think of doing this myself. The second is that Deck and Herson misrepresI have two complaints about this book. The first is that I didn't bloody well think of doing this myself. The second is that Deck and Herson misrepresent the work of Lynne Truss, seeming to rely upon Talk To The Hand rather than her actual grammar-stickler tome, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. As writers with a clear sense of humour themselves, I would have thought they would recognise it elsewhere. With that off my chest, I very much enjoyed this. I was highly amused by their exploits and sympathetic with their overall mission, but perhaps the best part of the book was the way in which these adventures enabled an exploration of American society and the importance of communication, whether that be how a typo changes the meaning of a message (or the image you are trying to convey) to the importance of actually engaging in a civilised conversation with someone before pointing out all the errors in their signage....more
I was howling with laughter as I read this and found it difficult to put down; in fact, I read it overnight. Sure, it's lightweight, it's episodic witI was howling with laughter as I read this and found it difficult to put down; in fact, I read it overnight. Sure, it's lightweight, it's episodic with no sustained over-arching narrative, and she really has channeled a lot of herself into the character of Liz Lemon - but it is funny, and that was what I was looking for. Fey's feminism is also heartening and I'm glad there are women like her and Amy Poehler in the world to roll their eyes at the claims that women aren't funny. Has anyone ever considered the possibility that maybe men don't have a sense of humour?...more
Oh, Dawn, how I do love thee, even though you are now doing FlyBy ads for Coles supermarkets. I have grown up watching you from your days in the ComicOh, Dawn, how I do love thee, even though you are now doing FlyBy ads for Coles supermarkets. I have grown up watching you from your days in the Comic Strip, French and Saunders, through the Vicar of Dibley, and Jam and Jerusalem. To read this book makes me feel like I'm your friend - the letters to the various important people in your life is so intimate it makes me feel like one of them. They are by turns an absolute hoot and so very touching. Your grief for your father and your adoration of Fatty, which gives me that warm happy feeling that I also get when Tina Fey talks about Amy Poehler - I love that funny ladies love each other so much. Keep doing awesome things, dear Dawn, for I shall be watching and laughing (so they had better be funny otherwise I'll be that awful person laughing at you when I ought not)....more
This is probably more a three and a half star book but I'm giving it an extra half star because, well, we can't do halves here and because Mindy KalinThis is probably more a three and a half star book but I'm giving it an extra half star because, well, we can't do halves here and because Mindy Kaling makes me laugh. As many have pointed out, this is very similar in style and structure to Tina Fey's Bossypants in that it is a female comedian writing an episodic quasi-memoir/rumination on things in life, but it is also very different simply because Fey and Kaling actually have very different voices (both literally and literarily). And, whatever, I like them both and their books. Although I read this fairly quickly and pretty much in one go, this is a great book to have lying around when you want a quick section to read with a side of giggle. Kaling is personable and intimate without, you know, oversharing. And her response to the "are women funny" question in the epilogue is one of the most concise and intelligent responses to it I have ever heard. Despite Mike Schur's suggestion that she is a pro-gun Republican, I have a bit of a girl-crush on Mindy Kaling now....more
Well, you can't say she didn't warn you but Jen Lancaster presents herself as unapologetically boorish. Sometimes it is amusing because she really wasWell, you can't say she didn't warn you but Jen Lancaster presents herself as unapologetically boorish. Sometimes it is amusing because she really was dealing with morons but other times she was the moron - or at least downright rude. Nevertheless, there was some self-reflection and character growth by the end of the book, which I suppose is part of the point. Even though I don't think I like Jen very much (or at least the characterisation of herself she has presented here), I enjoyed this as a light, slightly satirical autobiographical chick-lit piece of fluff - so as it was intended....more
It is not overstatement at all to say, as pretty much every critic's quote of the book says, that every woman should read this book. Because they shouIt is not overstatement at all to say, as pretty much every critic's quote of the book says, that every woman should read this book. Because they should. And all the blokes too. Part-memoir and part-soapbox rant on the total fucking bullshit of the patriarchy, this book had me in stitches on public transport, but also tearing up - usually because I was overwhelmed with joy at what she was saying, and the passion and humour with which it was being said. Moran's mission is to make feminism cool, and I believe she succeeds (although I'm biased, because I already thought feminism was cool). I mean, with people like Caitlin Moran, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on the case, why is this even a question?...more
(I'm actually inclined to sneak another half-star on to that score. Damn you, limitations of GoodReads.) Benjamin Law is one of the funniest writers I(I'm actually inclined to sneak another half-star on to that score. Damn you, limitations of GoodReads.) Benjamin Law is one of the funniest writers I have ever read. I could end the review right there but it wouldn't do this collection of autobiographical essays justice for with his hilarity come some poignant, almost heartbreaking moments. Law is a skilled writer but it is clear that in addition to being blessed with talent he is blessed with a mad family who provide him with brilliant source material. There are, however, those moments in the Law family exploits that we can all recognise from growing up - going on uncomfortable family trips, the awkwardness of adolescence, family in-jokes, leaping on furniture and squealing at insects (I did a lot of this and still do to this day except that I don't have any siblings around to perform the killings for me). Law proves that by writing what you know, you can create something that is at once unique and quasi-universal in its appeal. His family's humour is largely scatalogical - but dare I say charmingly so. Law's essays had me by turns hooting with laughter and welling with tears - "Skeletons" is particularly touching. There is the touch of the David Sedaris about him - the crazy family, the scatological humour, the "particularly aggressive form of homosexuality" (p. 105), and his ability to tease out humour and tenderness from a single moment....more
I am a little bit over sexual adventuress books, to be quite honest (see In My Skin: A Memoir; The Bride Stripped Bare) but I'd always meant to pick tI am a little bit over sexual adventuress books, to be quite honest (see In My Skin: A Memoir; The Bride Stripped Bare) but I'd always meant to pick this one up at some point, as I had seen the telly show with Billie Piper (very scarred at seeing Rose's boobs - what would the Doctor think?). One of the reasons why I liked this one much better than those other books is because Belle du Jour approached the topic and experiences with a sense of humour - Gemmell and Holden taken themselves so seriously even when they are trying to make a joke that I just find them and their approach to sex and sexuality rather tiresome. This, on the other hand, was a good-humoured (but not necessarily comic) account of a woman who makes money from doing what she loves best, and which happens to explore other sorts of issues, ideas and experiences along the way. I'm not going to rush out and read more, but I'm happy to have ticked this one off the list....more
Having read the book that Hilary Winston's boyfriend wrote about her (The Average American Male), I thought it was only fair to read her response. NowHaving read the book that Hilary Winston's boyfriend wrote about her (The Average American Male), I thought it was only fair to read her response. Now, a part of me thinks, Man, these two really deserved one another, but another, much bigger part of me, needs to remember that old adage about being the first to throw stones...although I've never written a revenge memoir about an ex.
Perhaps it isn't fair to either book to write this review as a comparison but bugger it, I want to.
I didn't really like The Average American Male - unsurprisingly, really. The character is hateful, without the right amount of irony or quite enough satire to make it acceptable. Yes, that was "fiction" but Winston gets bonus points from me for having the guts to write this as a memoir - and in this her neuroses and failings are on display and freely admitted, and I still kind of like her in the end (not in the least because she writes for both Community and Happy Endings). I would argue that, even taking the stylistic differences into consideration, Winston is the better writer - not in the least because she writes with pathos. It isn't quite as funny as I had expected, but I still found her misadventures interesting, amusing and often horrifying.
There is a high chance that I'm more inclined to side with Winston because, you know, sisterhood or something, but the truth is I simply enjoyed her book more. Again, this should be unsurprising as I am perhaps more her audience and her peer. Plus she made me tear up in the epilogue. Personally, I am really looking forward to becoming a crazy cat-lady....more
Well, Jane Maas certainly comes from the David Ogilvy school of writing: "Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs." Maas's writing is deWell, Jane Maas certainly comes from the David Ogilvy school of writing: "Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs." Maas's writing is definitely clear and her anecdotes often quite amusing, but I did not find this a terribly engaging book - and the concision is partly to blame! I felt that many of the anecdotes were disjointed and their relevance either tenuous or completely unclear. Furthermore, the constant cross-referencing to Mad Men became a little irritating after a while. Nevertheless, it was interesting to get an insight into a working woman's life in the 1960s - well, a well off, middle class woman's working life, at least, which Maas has the decency to acknowledge, if only briefly....more
A part of me wishes I was as funny as Jenny Lawson...but then I realised that it would come at the cost of extreme fucking neuroses and suddenly I wasA part of me wishes I was as funny as Jenny Lawson...but then I realised that it would come at the cost of extreme fucking neuroses and suddenly I was cool with just being slightly amusing.
The first few chapters of this had me in stitches - magical talking squirrels called Stanley, FFS - but admittedly it lessens in the intensity of hilarity about halfway through. I mean, Lawson is still pretty funny, but you kind of get accustomed to the pattern of her humour by that point, which makes the delivery slightly less funny but the situations themselves are still absolutely hilarious....more
Anyone looking for salacious gossip and the grubby inside story to working on Vogue will be sorely disappointed - Coddington lives up to her name andAnyone looking for salacious gossip and the grubby inside story to working on Vogue will be sorely disappointed - Coddington lives up to her name and is incredibly gracious about everyone she has worked with, even those she doesn't like very much. And Anna Wintour is not numbered amongst the latter. Coddington makes numerous references throughout the book to the wonderful RJ Cutler documentary, The September Issue, and the subsequent public fascination with her relationship with Wintour. I felt it was clear from the film - and further explicitly underscored by Coddington herself in her memoir - that these women respect each other immensely, and it is the creative tension between the two of them that has made American Vogue into the style bible it is today. What Coddington does reveal here, with subtle references and also the indignation with which she discusses the inferred depiction of Anna in The Devil Wears Prada, is that there may also be a genuine (albeit not necessarily close) friendship between the women as well - and this is one of the many things that Coddington keeps quite private even as she opens up in her reflections.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Coddington's style of writing is simple, elegant and conversational. She reveals enough details of her life to keep you fairly satisfied - sometimes with devastating casualness (view spoiler)[such as in the case of the miscarriage of a child at seven months after the trauma of being overturned in her car by a gang of soccer hooligans (hide spoiler)] - but somehow manages to do this while maintaining a sense of polite distance. I must say that I admire her very much for this. I think the way in which she deals with sad and traumatic events in her life with but a few brief lines (with the exception of the chapter devoted to her late friend Liz) is quite pointed - she draws clear boundaries in this memoir and expects them to be respected.
What was unexpected (to me) and what I found utterly charming were her line drawings that illustrate the book (alongside a great collection of photographs, including some of Coddington's favourite spreads). These humourous little sketches wryly depict a range of scenarios, and perhaps make Coddington's ironic sense of humour all the more evident. It is fascinating that Coddington's preferred mode of remembering is visual - she prefers to sketch in shows rather than take notes - and perhaps says much about how and why she is able to create such visually rich shoots.
It should go without saying that this is a must-read for lovers of fashion.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I think I've said it before but it is so true that it is worth repeating: one of the best things about reading books written by Stephen Fry is that onI think I've said it before but it is so true that it is worth repeating: one of the best things about reading books written by Stephen Fry is that one can imagine him speaking every single word. Reading his books is so very much like listening to them.
The other thing I like about Stephen Fry is that he's so very clever but hasn't wasted it on being nasty and vitriolic. He's done some daft things in his life, as chronicled in Moab but one gets the sense that those things plus time multiplied by reflection has made him quite a generous and thoughtful type in the end. At least, that is the ideal I like to hold on to.
Fry's autobiographical series (if we include the later The Fry Chronicles and its hint at more to come about the cocaine and manic depression years) brings me great joy (as well as some bittersweet moments), but mostly it makes me want to read more....more
The thing I love about these pseudo-biographies by female comedians is that they are laugh-out loud funny. This is also what my cats dislike about theThe thing I love about these pseudo-biographies by female comedians is that they are laugh-out loud funny. This is also what my cats dislike about them as I suddenly become a twitchy mass that is uncomfortable to sit on and that makes sudden loud noises. And yes, this is precisely what happened with this book.
In many ways, this is like being in a written version of Hart's telly show. It isn't, however, a straight autobiography but perhaps sits somewhere between Tina Fey's Bossypants and Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman in that they use personal anecdotes to talk about Topics and Issues. I would say that overall Hart is a little more circumspect on the private matters than other other two, but you still get a good insight into her life (I would have loved to work in an office with her!) and the workings of her humour.
I also relate to a lot of what Hart talks about, which is both terrifying and comforting. It is comforting because the most important thing you learn about Hart in this book is that even though she has made a ripping career out of being a bit floppy and slightly awkward, she is a woman completely at home with herself - and it's just marvellous....more