So the good news is, Lena Dunham is wrong. She's not the voice of a generation, as her thinly disguised version of herself on her TV show once stated.So the good news is, Lena Dunham is wrong. She's not the voice of a generation, as her thinly disguised version of herself on her TV show once stated. Nope, she's just the voice of over-indulged narcissists who have been so praised for every shit they've ever taken in life that they no longer smell the stink. Someone needs to let her know that acting like an annoying, precocious child when you're in your late twenties isn't adorable, funny or impressive.
It's too bad, because Dunham has flickers of insightful moments on these pages. There are some smart observations, such as when, in a chapter about losing her virginity, she notes "[h]ow permanent virginity feels, and then how inconsequential." There are some funny moments, too, like when she writes, "He had a lot of time to cook: his job, editing the newsletter for a nonprofit that promoted the global language of Esperanto, was 'flexible.'" Funny, right? And self-aware enough to partially trick me into thinking she's in on the joke.
But to contrive this book of essays (some free-form, because this girl doesn't abide by RULES!) as things she's "learned" makes me cringe. There's nothing remarkable about what she writes - neither in the content nor in how she tells it. It's more like a never-ending blog post by someone who can't utter a sentence without the word "me" or "I" in it.
In closing, I'm going to recount the (unintentionally) funniest scene from the book:
"After reading an early version of this essay [about death and dying], my friend Matt asked me: "Why are you in such a rush to die?" I was shocked by the question, even a little pissed. This wasn't about me! This was about the universal plight...."
OH THE IRONY...
Lena, Lena, Lena...your problems are simply not that interesting, important or unique.
PS: I'm not getting into the whole privilege debate. You can't help who your parents are, and besides, forget privilege - my personal opinion (that everyone on Earth has been waiting for) is this chick's upbringing was like a social experiment gone wrong. Regardless, when your parents have friends in high places, you should make sure you're worthy of the favor they're pulling. Otherwise it's just extended nepotism....more
I'm seriously considering tagging The Boys in the Boat with my "All-time Favorites" tag. I loved it that much.
The lazy way of describing this book (wI'm seriously considering tagging The Boys in the Boat with my "All-time Favorites" tag. I loved it that much.
The lazy way of describing this book (which I'm starting with; not sure what that says about me) is that it's one part Unbroken (action-packed, Olympian[s] on the brink of WWII, scrappy hero who'll win your heart), one part Miracle (that is, the movie about the underdog US Olympic hockey team during the Cold War) and one part In the Garden of Beasts (juxtaposing 1930s Germany/the Nazi regime history with a smaller, more humanized story). Whip all that up in the blender, and you get The Boys in the Boat.
The two books above were easily, easily five-star reviews for me, and I could watch Miracle seven thousand times without ever tiring of it, but to say this book is "just" an amalgam of those great things is like that experiment where they put celebrities' famous body parts together (Angeline Jolie's lips, Julia Roberts' smile, etc.) but instead of it being this otherworldly gorgeous being, it was like a creepy Frankenstein. In other words, it doesn't do it justice. It's excellent on its own, without comparisons to anything else, and if I weren't so lazy, I wouldn't have even brought them up in the first place.
Given the (justly deserved) uproar over Unbroken over the past year or two and over everything Erik Larson has written ever, I'm surprised I haven't heard more chatter about this book and its author. Like those two authors, Brown is both an incredible writer and an incredible researcher, which when compiling books of this magnitude is essential. The book never gets stuck in weighty, dense facts, though - you'll fly through the pages effortlessly, if necessary staying up all night, flashlight-under-the-covers style to finish it. Brown is a hybrid of a journalist, one who can enliven history while poking at your feels and inspiring you, and he deserves to be more widely read.
Nothing I say here about the book is going to make you read or not read it. As the subtitle says, it's about nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. That, and so, so much more. ...more
This is the book that Gone Girl could have been if it hadn't been trying too hard to shock and awe its readers with more and more inane plot twists. DThis is the book that Gone Girl could have been if it hadn't been trying too hard to shock and awe its readers with more and more inane plot twists. Dangerous Girls cleverly combines two ripped-from-the-headlines plots - Natalee Holloway's disappearance in Aruba and the Amanda Knox/Italian murder trials - into a dangerous and exhilarating ride through the judicial process and the truth, lies, manipulations and obfuscations that it entails. Lots of fun, and though I despise the term "beach read," seeing as this book's crime takes place in Aruba over Spring Break, I think it's safe to say Haas wouldn't mind you getting a little sand in the pages. (Or in the edges of your Kindle, if you roll new school.)
Note: I read this on a Kindle, and upon adding this book on Goodreads, I'm glad I did. What's happening with this cover?? It looks like 50 Shades of Barf Goes on Spring Break. You just lost 80% of your potentially audience...good work, publishers....more
In the beginning, there was Bossypants, and it was good. Then, eyeballs a-flicker with dollar signs, every book publisher scrambling for their next biIn the beginning, there was Bossypants, and it was good. Then, eyeballs a-flicker with dollar signs, every book publisher scrambling for their next big hit began searching for the next Tina, and just like that, a new genre was born: Memoirs Written by Female Comics. The recipe is as follows: one part career memoir; one part image-softening, relatable life story as a woman or mother; one part humanizing, character-building mistake, regret or transgression; a dash of the raunchy; and lots of humor since these people do get paid to make us laugh.
Don't misunderstand me; I'm not anti the genre - it's just that I now see through it, so I'm a little weary of it. It also doesn't help that I read Yes Please soon after finishing Lena Dunham's painful, horrendous book, so maybe I'm just still suffering emotionally from that whole situation.
Mizzzz Dunham aside, Poehler's book, as much as it saddens me to say it, was not everything I hoped it would be. Not surprisingly, she's an excellent writer, but some of the essays (or gratuitous humor within otherwise well-written essays) felt like floor scraps from the writers' room that never should have made it into production. I'm not sure I'm in a safe enough place mentally to discuss the beginning, but dear lord. Was her editor high? Then there were a few cases of little punchlines or aside quips that fell flat on the page - as though without her bringing them to life physically for us, they just were DOA.
Still, those flaws can be overlooked by the brilliance she pulls off routinely throughout the book - and interestingly, I didn't always think the humor and/or show biz essays were the best. Yes, it's fun to hear about her work on SNL and Parks and Rec and to hear firsthand stories of people I would like to marry, like Tina Fey and Seth Meyers, but I was more drawn to her writing about children, both hers and the ones she's met through her volunteer work.
Poehler's essays on her own children were so sincere and true - from the legitimately LOL-inducing story of her first son's birth to her sweet memory of taking naps together in the Nantucket breeze to the way she described her son as smelling like a "love cookie" (yesssss!!!) - that I teared up. In her personal life, Poehler is a huge advocate for girls (she has her own organization that encourages girls to "change the world by being themselves" called Smart Girls at the Party), and in her essays about high school and Haiti, you can feel how strongly she wishes for every child to grow up knowing safety and love. It's in her chapter about Haiti that she writes one of my favorite things about having (or loving) children ever:
When your children arrive, the best you can hope for is that they break open everything about you. Your mind floods with oxygen. Your heart becomes a room with wide-open windows. You laugh hard every day. You think about the future and read about global warming. You realize how nice it feels to care about someone more than yourself. And gradually, through this heart-heavy openness and these fresh eyes, you start to see the world a little more."
Maybe the reason I feel a little unsatisfied by this book is because I was so impressed by the more honest stuff that the "and here's my story about fame and fortune, and here's a joke, ba-dum-dum!" just didn't rock me the same way.
That said, had the book eschewed humor entirely, we wouldn't have the sentence "Moms and dads would patiently recite every item on the menu to their squirming five-year-olds, as if the many flavors of ice cream represented all the unique ways they were loved," and we'd all be a little worse off. ...more