Ate this right up. Pain, Parties, Work is as much a biography of Manhattan in 50's as it is Sylvia Plath, and Elizabeth Winder's prose is the perfectAte this right up. Pain, Parties, Work is as much a biography of Manhattan in 50's as it is Sylvia Plath, and Elizabeth Winder's prose is the perfect match for its subject: poetic, feeling, feminine, and researched. Winder had me nodding my head enthusiastically by page two of her Introduction wherein she took aim: taking on "decades of reductionist writing about [Plath's] person and her writing." If that doesn't set your fist pumping, Winder's account of the real life people and events that inspired The Bell Jar offers a glimpse into the female experience at a very specific point in American history that is interesting in it's own right.
My first thought: I am interested in everything in the title. New York. The 1950's. Balancing career, social life and mental health. Sylvia, obviously. Sign me up.
My second: This cover is beautiful, but isn't it odd that Plath isn't pictured? This isn't something I wondered at a couple chapters in. Winder does an excellent job portraying Plath in real world context and we come to know her as a girl very much of her time. Fashion obsessed, social, academic, exhausted by the gender stereotypes she adhered to, dating constantly and constantly fearing pregnancy. The girl on the cover might have been any one of the smart, promising, pretty girls at the Barbizon that summer.
I'm so tired of the unimaginative and misleading portrait of Plath as goth chick; it does her work little justice, and it's just inaccurate to her persona. Does she write about a death a lot? Yeah. (side note: so does John Green, and teenage girls relate to him too. So why is one often a punch line and the other a profile in The New Yorker? (side note to side note: I love John Green. But even John Green knows John Green gets a lot more credit than ladies of equal talent and wit)). The Bell Jar is one of the single most relatable and wonderfully written books I've ever encountered, and Winder's normalization of Plath is, I think, a credit to that tale. Because Plath is more than her sad ending, she's someone of incredible passion, intelligence, and talent who struggled with depression, as so many of us do, and the clarity with which she wrote about that experience is a gift, not just in The Bell Jar, but in the journals she left behind -- which are often so poignant and beautifully written that, were I a writer, I think they'd make me want to pull my hair out in envy. Her private diary is better than most edited, published works. But now I'm just talking about Plath, and not Winder's work.
Point is: Plath is a subject worthy of this study, and I'm so glad it exists. Winder portrayed Plath as the multi-faceted person she was, as interested in her art as her next date or the latest trend in lip color, and reading, I felt the sweltering heat of that summer, the prestige and pressure of her internship, and that fearful excitement of Freshman year. I loved picturing her, Miss Prim, in her robe, and I ached a bit when she tossed her carefully chosen summer wardrobe of the roof of the Barbizon, bidding New York goodbye.
I'm so interested to see how Winder's text informs my next re-read of the Bell Jar, and I'm sure Pain, Parties, Work is a title I'll likewise return to....more
I listened to Amy Poehler's audio performance of Yes Please and the whole while I thought "what the hell must the physical pages of this book look likI listened to Amy Poehler's audio performance of Yes Please and the whole while I thought "what the hell must the physical pages of this book look like?!" The audio performance is totally entertaining, and at times even odd, with lines read by Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, and Poehler's parents in equal and random turn. The producer of Parks & Rec adds commentary to one of Amy's chapters in a way that sounds totally impromtu and leaves me curious how the chapter reads in type. Seth Myers reads his own chapter with similarly impromtu introduction and banter with Amy, and the final chapter is read live to an audience so enthusiastic and prone to clapping you might suspect Tinkebell was dying at Poehler's tiny feet.
Listening to the audiobook, I have no doubt, is the best way to experience this book. The Boston accent Poehler hilariously slips in and out of is reason enough to download.
Yes Please is also a bit of an odd ball in content. It sort of defies genre and is instead a unique, feel-good ball of Amy aura. The chapters on her career, her love of improv, her children, and considerable name-dropping are the expected bio-fare (though she writes not so much historically about her family and friends as her heart just gushes gratitude and praise for them). There is humor, of course, but most of all there's a lot of heart, and advice on being a good person who makes healthy choices (or tries to), and Amy, as with her Smart Girls work and the character of Leslie Knope, is big-hearted, and just kinda wants everyone to feel awesome.
The introduction felt long-winded; talking about how hard a book was to write sounded less and less like a joke the more and more she talked about it, to the point where it seemed self-congratulatory to me. But that's the only complaint I can wage. Skip over it if it starts to grate your nerves a bit too. Some of the name dropping had a similar effect on me, but I can't say that Tina Fey and Kathleen Hannah don't deserve whatever kudos ya wanna throw their way, and Poehler seems nothing if not genuine is the good things she is so easy to say about other people.
Improv and the ~theatre~ are not subjects of interest for me, which is probably why I didn't jump on Yes Please earlier, but even those topics aren't her main focus. If anything, I think this book is a self-help book. It's a lesson in being a kind person, and when kindness fails, at least being an honest one. It's easy to listen to Poehler talk about nearly any topic, and if my review tells you anything about this book, it's probably this: it's really hard to not refer to her as merely "Amy", because she feels like your best pal.
I hope she'll write more, despite how hard it is, and how tired she is. DOESN'T ANYONE KNOW HOW TIRED SHE IS!?? ;)...more
Short review: Super-duper feel-good funny book. Loved it and can't wait to share it with... every gal I know. Pretty much.
And in a few more words: IfShort review: Super-duper feel-good funny book. Loved it and can't wait to share it with... every gal I know. Pretty much.
And in a few more words: If you don’t know anything about Mindy Kaling, or you don’t like her character Kelly Kapoor on The Office, or think she is her character Kelly Kapoor on The Office and are therefore expecting this to be a bunch of TMZ gossip/Hollywood garbage, or (like me, tbh) you just don’t watch The Office anymore.. WHO CARES READ THIS ANYWAY! In Kaling’s own words, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is about “romance, female friendships, unfair situations that now seem funny in retrospect, unfair situations that I still don’t think are funny, Hollywood, heartache, and my childhood. Just that really hard-core, masculine stuff men love to read about.” And in my words: this is an absolute feel-good read that I want to hand out to literally every woman I know. It’s funny for sure, but it’s also wonderfully sweet and refreshingly normal. She’s this perfectly friendly combination of chic, clever, successful and grounded and it’s a pleasure to feel like you’re buddying up next to her reading this.
Stand out essays include Kaling’s thoughts on friendship (Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities), marriage (Married People Need to Step it Up), and body image (Chubby for Life).
I remember being in first grade, in Mrs. Gilmore’s class at Fiske Elementary School, and seeing that Ashley Kemp, the most popular girl in our class, weighed only thirty-seven pounds. We knew this because we weighted her on the industrial postal scale they kept in the teacher’s supply closet. I was so envious. I snuck into the supply closet later that same day to weight myself. I was a whopping sixty-eight pounds.
Some of the first math I understood was that i was closer to twice Ashley’s weight than to her weight.
“Don’t be closer to TWICE a friend’s weight than to her actual weight,” I told myself. This little mantra has helped me stave off obesity for more than two decades.
Choppy and sort of all over the place but, really, I don't care because this woman is brilliant. If you aren't laughing, you ain't readin' right. TheChoppy and sort of all over the place but, really, I don't care because this woman is brilliant. If you aren't laughing, you ain't readin' right. The most borrowed book on my shelf....more
Fame, manipulation, bad hair, and lots and lots (and lots) of quaaludes.
What a train wreck. Both the text (did she have an editor?) and the story (thoFame, manipulation, bad hair, and lots and lots (and lots) of quaaludes.
What a train wreck. Both the text (did she have an editor?) and the story (though on the story side of things, that's what keeps you reading, of course). It's hard to look away but in this case, sometimes I really wanted to. I'm afraid I'm forever damaged by Cherie Currie's horrifying history of sexual abuse and stupidity. If you were repulsed by the film version of Kim Fowley, don't even pick this up. Dude is despicable. One of the worst parts of this book is that it's actually frequently hard to feel sorry for Cherie, despite all the ways she was taken advantage of because she comes across as such a complete dip shit. You were hardcore? Nobody could tell you what to do? Then why is this memoir a lesson in manipulation and how to fall for it? Cherie Currie's life sounds like the exact opposite of the "freedom" she thought she was living out. That said, this is not uninteresting. It's a big ol' mess, quick and reads like a juicy diary, though ultimately too depressing for me....more
Interesting, though ultimately kinda boring. Jenny Woolf doesn't so much create a biography here, as she refutes claims made by others. Which is fineInteresting, though ultimately kinda boring. Jenny Woolf doesn't so much create a biography here, as she refutes claims made by others. Which is fine as there's a lot of crap to debunk. She puts Carroll's life and actions (not that there are too many we can really know about, as she also points out) into the context of the Victorian period, helping to normalize some of his (by today's standards) seeming eccentricities, while still making the point that, yes, the man was still unusual, but he wasn't a creep. She made her point about historical context a bit redundant though, I felt, and the steam I'd started the book with was lost about half way through....more
"It doesn't seem as though anybody has any brains around here," somebody said. ... "Why doesn't someone tell us what to do next?" somebody else said. "B"It doesn't seem as though anybody has any brains around here," somebody said. ... "Why doesn't someone tell us what to do next?" somebody else said. "Because they don't know" another voice said. "Seriously," I said, "why don't we all just take off and fly to Crete? We've got full tanks." "That's a bloody good idea," David Coke said. ... "You know what I think," a young man called Dowding said, "I think someone wants to be able to say that the brave RAF in Greece fought gallantly to the last pilot and the last plane." I figured that Dowding was probably right. It was either that, or our superiors were so muddle-headed and incompetent that they simply didn't know what to do with us.
from Going Solo, pg 165.
This would be interesting to read about regardless of who it had happened to, but because it happened to Roald Dahl, and because you spend half the book wondering HOW THE HELL this man made it out of that dump of a situation (7 planes to take on over 200 nazi planes, and he had little experience), and feeling grateful that he did, it makes it exponentially more so. I mean, it really is a miracle he survived. I thought books like "Matilda" were miracle enough in their own right, and I know people can live or die every day of their lives, but most people don't jump in a plane they've never flown before and take off to fight a giant monster. Five times in one day. And survive. And then write my favorite book.
Anyway, an interesting read for that amongst other reasons. The lack of organization, of direction these dudes received is astounding to me, as is the fearlessness of all those young dumb boys, so eager to fight. Dude's FACE gets smashed in, he's BLIND for 5 months, and he's just happy to be flying again. Crazy.
I wish there was a third part to his biography. While I didn't mind that this didn't include much of anything about his writing career (it was probably more worthwhile to read about his actual life, these events that shaped him), then to read about publishing deadlines and all that (certainly more exciting), I'd still like to hear more. More, more, more....more
It's amazing how happy and nostalgic a book primarily about childhood beatings, flesh wounds, crotchety, bureaucratic old men, surgery without anestheIt's amazing how happy and nostalgic a book primarily about childhood beatings, flesh wounds, crotchety, bureaucratic old men, surgery without anesthesia, and dead mice can make a person, but man, this did it for me. What a great, disgusting and disturbing book. What a great guy....more
Holy crapoly, this may be the most intense picture book I've ever read. Sparse language combined with simple black, white and red line drawings tell tHoly crapoly, this may be the most intense picture book I've ever read. Sparse language combined with simple black, white and red line drawings tell the story of Sis' youth, growing up in Prague and living through the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. Sis focuses on the role art and (especially) rock music played in his youth, which is... just, really powerful, if I may be so trite as to say so. I love the Beach Boys, but I never considered them a liberating force until reading this. It's great to view music through Sis's eyes....more
Kind of a strange little book because I'm not sure who the intended audience is. Too dull for your average middle-older reader. I picked it up becauseKind of a strange little book because I'm not sure who the intended audience is. Too dull for your average middle-older reader. I picked it up because, well, if I were going to write my own memoir of my fifth-grade year (or any year between first and 10th grade, really), it too would be about tuna fish....more