I’m going to be completely forthright and let you all know that I never had any intention of reading this book until I watched peaceful protestors get teargassed in my city. When I logged on to the library website to see what recommended selections might be available for the Summer Reading Program (and my endless quest to win free mugs/glasses bi-annually) the main page featured books about race instead. This book had no waiting list so I checked it out.
Between the World and Me is a letter from Coates to his adolescent son. It is a matter-of-fact statement of what it is like to be a black man in the United States at this moment in time and offers no promises of a fairytale ending or utopian future to come. His observations hit the nail right on the head . . . . .
Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains. You must struggle to truly remember this past in all its nuance, error, and humanity. You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children
The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will.
“It only takes one person to make a change,” you are often told. This is also a myth. Perhaps one person can make a change, but not the kind of change that would raise your body to equality with your countrymen.
Again, to be completely honest, Coates’ writing style is not the type I enjoy. Most likely it’s because I’m not intelligent enough to truly “get” it and I fully admit it – I just appreciate a more direct delivery and “purple” prose is not my idea of a good time. I would definitely struggle with his fictional work for sure and will most likely avoid it in the future since I’m not a reader who seeks out books intentionally just to complain about them. However, the message presented is worthy of all the stars, which is why it is receiving so many from me.
As I said above, I picked this up after watching the current state of events in the United States. I fully admit I’m no sort of activist. I don’t even participate in social media aside from here and Instagram which are both solely dedicated to talking books. I am not a fan of political rants conducted by Keyboard Commandos, have made that very clear in the past, and do not want to ever be mistaken for one. But the one thing I can do????
But then I discovered even old people can appreciate the wonderment which is Tik Tok so I think I’m good for at least another 30 days. I’ve been feeling sort of the same about books and trying to pick up stuff that’s been on the TBR that I really have no excuse to continue avoiding being as I’m locked in the house all damn day. Born a Crime is one of those selections. Full disclosure – I do not watch The Daily Show (not even when Jon Stewart was the host) and I have not had any other experiences with Trevor Noah either. But this book was highly recommended so I finally took a chance because if all of my friends jumped off a bridge, well . . . . .
And everyone was right so it worked out great. It’s extremely interesting and informative regarding growing up during apartheid. I would like to crawl around Noah’s mother’s brain for a bit and figure out why exactly she made some of the choices she made, but that’s a different book, I guess. I’ve been told repeatedly the audio is the way to go for this one, but unfortunately neither library had that option available so I had to settle for the paper (or paperless, as the case was) copy. This has a crazy high rating and a billion reviews. Not much more needs to be said by someone like me other than I’d recommend it if you enjoy reading biographies. ...more
I really have nothing negative to say about The Boy Kings of Texas. This was another selection I picked up due to this list and my issues are strictly opinion based and fairly benign at that. Per usual, I am always curious why a “Regular Joe” (for lack of a better term) deems their life story so much more noteworthy than the next guy that he/she takes pen to paper, but more power to them for believing their story worth telling. While memoirs by non-famous people aren’t always my idea of a great time, I am pretty open about my love for coming of age tales, so my rating would have probably been kicked up a notch had so many years past the formative ones been left on the cutting room floor. A heavier-handed editor would have also been beneficial. Domingo Martinez has an excellent delivery – very conversational with a dry wit, like sitting around the kitchen table having coffee with an old friend. Unfortunately not every entry was a winner so my attention waned at times. For those looking for an #ownvoices selection regarding the migrant experience, this is once again not it. Martinez’s brothers refer to themselves as Tejano, “Texican” and plain old American. They were all U.S. citizens and this is simply the story of their life growing up in Brownsville, Texas. That’s not to say it’s not worth reading, however. Much like Half Broke Horses tales about the Granny are well worth the price of admission all on their own....more
Per the placeholder below, I have a bit of a thing for Colin Jost. In all honesty, though, I kind of have a thing for SNL performers period. I have talked ad nauseam about my lifelong affinity for the Not Ready for Primetime Players and how some of my fondest childhood memories involve shoveling late-night Pizza House paper thin crust pizza and Italian beef sammiches into my mouth while watching Eddie Murphy rise to fame. By the time I was old enough to actually understand the jokes it was an era most would consider pretty great with the likes of Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman, Victoria Jackson, Mike Meyers, Kevin Nealon, etc. And then there was magic. Sandler, Spade, Rock, Schneider, Meadows and the incomparable Farley. In all actuality, while there have been some clinker seasons, who can argue that the groups listed above didn’t provide the hardy-hars or that others before and after didn’t do the same? I mean the original cast with Belushi and Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner and Garrett Morris? Brilliant. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph finally shutting up the douchecanoes who were still trying to argue that “women can’t be funny.” Priceless. And this current batch of kids like Aidy Bryant, Mikey Day, Chris Redd and Kate McKinnon ain’t nothing to shake a stick at either. There’s also this new guy who I think has potential *wink* . . . .
Dear Kenan, I hope you make ten million dollars a year and please never leave. You are everything.
Anyhow, so I watch a crapton of SNL and I try to read any and all former/current cast member memoirs that come out as well. I am what you might call a superfan. I want to hear all the details about being a part of my favorite show and I want zero filter used while dishing (David Spade wins this category). Jost’s book scores high with me for the following:
10. Despite not being an entry about SNL – as mentioned below he does talk about how many times he has pooped his pants in his adult life . . . . .
9. When it comes to talking about guest stars who were awful, everyone seems to clam up. Not Jost. He flat out says the worst person he ever had to work with “had the initials R.C. and then after the R is an “ussell,” and after the C is a “rowe”” . . . .
6. He willingly admits his fails like the eight episodes of Weekend Update he co-hosted with Cecily Strong (who is GREAT on SNL, they were both just really terrible together attempting to do the fake news) and hosting the Emmy’s. (To his/Che’s credit, they actually proposed a few bits that were potentially hilarious but vetoed by the powers that be.)
5, 4, 3, 2. He is responsible for skits that made me laugh so hard I woke my sleeping children up . . . . .
And #1. Relationship goals. No, not Scarlett Johansson. If anyone thinks that marriage will last, then I have some oceanfront property to sell you in the middle of the Sahara. Nope, I’m talking about the real deal . . . .
They are the reason I stay up until at least 11:15 before dozing off due to my old age and watching the remainder of the show with my morning coffee on Sundays. It will be interesting to see where the show goes without Jost’s involvement. Fifteen years is a long time and his input will be greatly missed. Not to mention the fact that he's such a tall, delicious glass of egg whites ; )
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley.
I have been in love with Colin Jost for the past six years and his intro declares he will tell a story about shitting his pants as an adult. The fact that I'm not auto-5-starring this should prove what an upstanding, honest member of society I am ; ) Now, get over here you creamy slice of provolone cheese so I can read you....more
After recently coming off a Burroughs’ induced Halloweeny high from the delightful Toil & Trouble, there was no chance I was going to let the holiday season go by without picking this one up. Once again this selection of stories reminded me of my Darling David in that the snapshots of life may have contained some dark aspects and the storyteller might have been a bit of a Negative Nelly, but the humor and sentimentality worked to (for the most part) keep spirits bright.
Included in this collection are tales about:
Eating Santa’s face – without ingesting some bathsalts first; Building a gingerbread house tenement; Asking for a pony; Waking up hungover at the Waldorf Astoria next to Santa; Waking up in a gaggle of homeless people; Waking up to find your dream house flooded; and George.
That one was a heartbreaker. Kudos to you AB for making me have a feel. And for being my kindred spirit when it comes to the advent calendar . . . .
My mother surely must have regretted ever introducing me to the advent calendar, because now she could never take it away. It would be like getting your child hooked on heroin and then withholding their needle.
For the last eighteen days, it had been the single focus of my life. My mother would not allow me to open a new door before eight o’clock in the evening. By seven each night, I was sitting on the floor in front of the refrigerator like a dog, staring up at the calendar and asking her every few minutes, “Is it almost eight o’clock?”
Luckily I’m the adult in my house (and the advent calendar belongs to me because my children are Grinches who only are interested in Christmas for the presents and spend the rest of their lives holed up in their rooms), so I open the day’s little door as soon as I get up each morning . . . .
JFC, this one didn’t make it to the Currently Reading list either??? Methinks things may have been getting glitchy up in the phone version of the ‘Reads. I can see me missing marking one book, but not two. Toil & Trouble was the third Burroughs’ offering I picked up and I have one thing to say . . . .
And also, WHERE MY GIRLS AT?!?!?!?!?! You know who you are (*cough Debbie cough*) – the ones who get dreamy swoon-face like Lisa Simpson here whenever our favorite culottes-wearing elf releases a new memoir . . . . .
Now, I can’t say that all of Augusten’s personal history will be something you want to consume since he was raised by a literal mental patient and molested throughout his youth (just to name a couple of cringe-worthy inclusions), but in this book Burroughs is married, pushing 50, moving to Connecticut and it is oh-so-very-Sedaris-esque which had me like . . . . .
Wow. The walls down here are literally made of mold. I am doing the renovation math in my mind as we walk, and we are now at around four hundred thousand dollars.
So far, I kind of hate it.
“I love it,” Christopher tells Corky.
Christopher has always loved a good wreck. He married me, after all. When we first started dating, he asked, “Have you seen Grey Gardens?” I told him I hadn’t. He said, “Oh, you have to watch it. It’s a crazy, great documentary.” He’d already seen it a few times, he loved it so much. But I told him to shut it off after the first five minutes. “I’m sure it’s amazing, but this reminds me way too much of my childhood. People living in squalor and eating cat food is a horrible memory, not entertainment, even if they are related to Jacqueline Kennedy.”
And, of course, there’s the witchcraft. Whether you are truly able to pick up what Burroughs is putting down or simply dismiss it as something like The Secret Oprah was pushing on everyone a decade or so ago or chalk it up to . . . . .
The fact that this one didn’t even make it to my “Currently Reading” list probably says everything that needs to be said about how much I enjoyed it. I picked this up during Nonfiction November as a challenge to myself to break away from my usual “nonfiction” selections which generally take form as comedic memoirs. I knew Dopesick had won a bunch of awards and I will admit I was hoping for a reading experience like I had with Evicted. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. What I got instead was the Lifetime Television for Women Mothers version of the opioid epidemic which centered around the addiction and/or death that they discussed regarding their children (one who only took ONE PILL and it killed him because – yeah, that sounds legit). While the history of Oxy was barfed out like a high-school term paper and there was a dealer or two thrown in for good measure, they were but blips on the radar. Nope - Dopesick wants to pull on the heartstrings and sadly for it . . . . .
I don't think I'll ever stop doubting why Average Joes feel their story is one to be told, – especially ones like The Glass Castle or this that air alllllllllllllllllllllll of the family’s dirty laundry to the world. I automatically assume it’s due to the fact that . . . . .
There’s just something about the trainwreck factor that sucks me right in. And the story here about a mother using her child as her confidante as she engages in a decades-long affair with her husband’s best friend????
Malabar (Barf, right? How could she not be a complete douche?) would have made for a great Real Housewife of Cape Code and could have seriously used a copy of the APA’s Textbook of Psychiatry . . . . .
In the early morning of July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis (after delivering the makings of what was known as “Little Boy” – the atomic bomb that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima) was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The torpedoes nearly sheared the Indianapolis in half and within 12 minutes the entire ship would vanish to one of the deepest burial grounds in the ocean. Nearly 300 men would die almost immediately – close to 900 would make it off the ship. In Harm’s Way is the true story of what happened in the four days it took for the military to discover the survivors . . . .
This has been on my to-read list for an eternity. In my mind it was always a book that could only be read during Shark Week. As my bad luck and failing brain would have it, I generally put myself on the wait list too late and have simply been putting this off every year when the timing failed. Until this year. As someone who does not read a lot of non-fiction I will say this earns every one of its 5 Stars for being succinct, not bogged down in military lingo and technical mumbo jumbo and presenting a story so horrifyingly fascinating it read like fiction. A must read for every shark addict . . . .
Patricia Altschul is the reason why phrases like “YASSSSSSS QUEEN” were invented – although she’s way too classy to use such common language herself, I’m sure. In case you aren’t familiar, Miss Pat is the resident matriarch of my most favorite television viewing pleasure (notice I didn’t include the word “guilty” because I don’t feel the least bit guilty when I watch it) . . . . .
Miss Pat is everything I want to be when I grow up so of course I had to read this book. Obviously this is for fans who want to know more. While it does provide some high society sorts of pointers regarding etiquette, the truly interesting tidbits are learning about Patricia’s life and how she got to her current level of fabulosity.
My favorite selections had to be her least favorite things. Here’s a few . . . .
I don’t have anything nice to say about… Toilet paper folded into points—and worse than that, toilet paper folded and topped with a sticker Fake Christmas trees (Sorry, Miss Pat!!!) Man buns Carnations Bringing untrained puppies to visit People who don’t watch TCM (Turner Classic Movies) French manicures Women or men who wear too much cologne Side boob (OH MY GOD I LOVE HER!)
And Then There’s the End of Western Civilization… Visible piercings Underwear that’s worn in place of real clothing in public Flip-flops, except at the beach
She also lets readers take a peek into her Kindle . . . .
Belgravia, by Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey. I also loved his novel Snobs. Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. Can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy. The Knockoff by my friend Lucy Sykes The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin Bright Precious Days by Jay McInerney Gertrude Bell, Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations by Georgina Howell Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year and Superficial by the one and only Andy Cohen Beach Music by Pat Conroy Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
And, for a psychotic Christmas decorator like myself, offers up some helpful advice when it comes to trimming the tree . . . .
While there’s no right or wrong way to trim a tree, here are a few practical tips: If you have a very large tree topper, as I do—I have a giant peacock with a sweeping tail on the top of my very tall tree (doesn’t everybody?)—the best way to attach it is to do so before the tree is set up. Use wire to secure the ornament, whether it’s a star, a bird, or something else that strikes your fancy, then position the tree in its stand.
She even lets you in on the secret behind the tastiest egg salad for your tea sandwiches . . . .
“At one time there was a social contract that if you played by the rules (went to school, got a job, and worked hard) everything would be fine. That’s no longer true today. You can do everything right, just the way society wants you to do it, and still end up broke, alone, and homeless.”
Nomadland is the three year study of a subset of retirees living the above quote. Either due to losing (or never acquiring) a pension, the housing bust, market crash, divorce, or a handful of other unpredictable situations, these folks have chosen a lifestyle similar to “a modern-day version of The Grapes of Wrath.” Their homes????
These are people with an incomparable work ethic who have chosen to do whatever it takes in order to get by. They have swapped $100,000 per year budgets for $75 per week and comfortable homes with sprawling lawns in suburbia for motor homes, modified delivery vehicles and pull-behind campers. Their stories are simply fascinating. Highly recommended to those who have never experienced more than a First World Problem as well as anyone who is looking for non-fiction with the page turnability factor like what was found in Evicted. ...more
Confession: Chelsea Handler has a voice I want to punch in the face so I’ve never been able to watch her on television. Despite this auditory issue, I have somehow managed to become quite the fan when it comes to her books. (I always tried to hear her doppelgänger, Elizabeth Banks, in my head instead when I read them.) Lord knows why I decided to give this one a listen, but it probably didn't help my rating any *shrug*
I thought this was going to be a hilarious take on a spoiled celebrity reevaluating her life and re-learning how to take care of some of the simple things without paid assistants. What I got instead was a real downer of a story that focused A LOT on death.
Aidy Bryant is a continual over-the-top laugh-out-loud force every week on SNL and has become a quiet force in proving both the “women aren’t funny” and “fat people are disgusting” troll armies wrong . . . .
When I heard she was getting her own television show I was thrilled – followed by nearly immediately being crushed because I am not a subscriber to the Hulu. So I did what I do best and I looked to see if Shrill had started off as a book.
I started listening and thought this was going to be a little memoir on navigating the world as a fat female. Being that I myself am a fat female, I have definitely spent my adult life embracing my plus size and trying to present a confident/body positive image no matter what trolls might have to say otherwise about the subject. I was pretty sure I would like this book. And I did . . . . until I didn’t any more. Body positivity = good. Believing overweight people should be declared a protected class????
Again – this is coming from someone who is probably around the same size as Lindy West, but I’m not about to let my white privilege show through so much that I’m going to back her up on that argument.
Wishing comedians didn’t joke about things like rape = good. Spending 1/3 of a book arguing that you believe in free speech while kinda doing whatever was possible to take away other’s (albeit disgusting uggos) free speech = notsogood. And speaking of that part of the book. On what planet does Daniel Tosh deserve more attention than he already has received? At some point I think that turd would have dried up and blown away by now if it weren’t for all the attention he receives in response to his “bad boy” brand of humor. Oh and dare I forget the focus on the boypig Tosh (or even better the sour grapes presented to the non-offensive Patton Oswalt simply for being famous enough that people listen to him when he speaks) while Louis C.K. gets a pass . . . . .
I ended up not being the target audience for this “fat, feminist, abortion story” – obviously YMMV. If I didn’t have such a hair trigger when it comes to wanting instant gratification I would have taken a second to look at the blurb and see that West is Lena Dunham’s kind of girl which means she probably wouldn’t be the kind of girl for me. Guess that ol’ hindsight works for me here too ; )...more
This book has received mixed reviews from my friends, but after seeing Debbie's reaction I figured it was worth me rolling the dice. It totally was too and really my only complaint was this was supposed to be a BI.O.GRA.PHY. People who write books like these are only supposed to be telling you about the person they are writing about. They aren’t supposed to show their obvious raging boner of a crush on their subject or interject their own sob story into the mix. Me no likey that bit.
Now on to the part I can see being a peeve for many others. Most of the trips on the way-back machine to Sandra Pankhurst’s history can be reacted to like such . . . .
Her memory fails her in many of the places where it counts the most which makes her a very unreliable narrator for the remainder. It also makes non-fiction read like fiction which is waaaaaaaaaaaaay beneficial to achieving a high score on the Kelly and Mitchell entertainment scale. Really, the only issue I have with the way Pankhurst’s history is presented is that a certain type of people (who wouldn’t ever even read this book to begin with, but certainly would have no problem bashing it) will use it to say that gender identity is a mental disorder brought on by a person’s upbringing – and that makes me barf. But fuck those people, right?
The other thing I kept thinking while reading was “why didn’t James Frey do this when he wrote his “memoir”?????” Remember James Frey and his million little pieces that made Oprah all . . . .
Simply put, that’s my whole problem with The Real Lolita. This is a book that doesn’t have much book to it. There are few documents remaining to provide detail and the main players are all deceased. Heck, even the person who this is about is dead by the halfway point and my Kindle copy was wrapped up at 76%. The remainder of the story is full of quotes like the following . . .
“Here’s the point in the narrative where I would like to tell you everything that happened to Sally Horner after Frank La Salle spirited her away from Atlantic City to Baltimore, and the eight months they lived in the city, from August 1948 through April 1949. The trouble is, I didn’t find out all that much.”
As the author herself states . . .
“Inference will have to stand in for confidence. Imagination will have to fill in the rest.”
That just doesn’t cut it for me when it comes to a true crime novel. And the links between Nabokov’s and Horner’s tales are all based on presumptions as well. I mean, excluding the very upfront admission by Nabokov himself that Horner did inspire/breathe new life into the ongoing twenty-year project which was trying to give Humbert Humbert’s voice something to talk about. But the supposed symbolism and such were once again 100% speculation.
Like many other authors or students of literature, Weinman chooses to portray Nabokov as a bigger predator than the actual criminal himself. And like so many others, she has no proof behind any of her theories. I’ll happily admit Nabokov makes my hinky meter ping as well. His writing does tend to gravitate toward the same subject matter. But was he a pedophile or hebephile or ephebophile or simply fascinated with writing about the taboo? Most likely the latter.
It’s also abundantly clear how Weinman feels about Lolita - going so far as to reduce it to a “daring little sex novel.” She chooses to brush over the fact that this is a classic, subject matter notwithstanding - focusing on it selling a lot of copies rather than being a book entire literature courses are dedicated to studying. The baby is also sort of thrown out with the bathwater as fans are labeled as pervy wrongreaders who, for decades, were too stupid to realize Lolita was actually a victim and that in the present should simply keep their (and all other) copies firmly placed on bookshelves rather than encourage others to read at all, to which I say . . . . .
If you want to read about Sally Horner but aren’t lucky enough to have a public library like mine and share a similar beer budget which doesn't allow you to buy allllllll the books, I recommend skipping this one entirely and going for Rust and Stardust instead....more
Being that I am of a certain age, my fondness doesn’t lie courtesy of film alone. No no, I was a willing victim passenger of the “way back seat” as a child. Much like the author, some of my best memories spurred from the place where only the youngest member(s) of the family were forced to ride. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, Richard Ratay’s take on family trips might be for you . . .
“It wasn’t that we enjoyed spending endless hours imprisoned together in a velour-upholstered cell, squabbling over radio stations and inhaling each other’s farts. It was that we had no other choice.”
Funny how the timing worked out such that I was reading this right when my family is set to embark on a weekend road trip. Of course, their “must see” item on the road is where Last Chance U is filmed while mine would be something more traditional . . . .
Luckily Ratay was of like mind with me. You might find yourself a little bogged down with the history of not only how the automobile came to be mass produced, but also how roads themselves were developed/designed/funded. But right when you think it has gone off the rails, Ratay swings you back in the direction of his personal history and tidbits that make you chuckle from nostalgia. Like dodging Ol’ Smokey courtesy of the fuzz buster and CB radio . . . .
If you had one of these, you know time spent was precious because not only did it suck batteries like a G.D. hoover, but it also had no volume control and its use was sure to be permitted only momentarily before the elders in the car went batshit and snatched it away.
All in all, this served as a pretty decent trip down memory lane of all the fun that was had while trying to reach our destination . . . .
I had a feeling I would be the dissenting opinion on this one right from the start when the author performed a Google search for some stolen cufflinks based off of a sketch (not an actual picture) and swore she found the exact items (for a bargain price of $8 even) and that she would be able to identify the original owner/identify the perp due to the fact that “names starting with the letter N” weren’t very prevalent on the Top 100 Baby Names list at the time and also thought it was perfectly reasonable to Ziploc baggie the things and present them to the police (because DNA evidence would still be present 30 years later??? Zoinks). I stopped watching Nancy Grace once my firstborn started sleeping through the night and I wasn’t held prisoner by the lack of viewing options at 2:00 a.m., thank you very much.
I feel I need to disclose that I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Patton Oswalt’s book . . . . that I still have not read because he broke what is left of my dried out rotten apple of a heart when his wife died unexpectedly and he shared how shattered he was and I can’t bear to even think about picking the damn thing up to this day. That being said, I understand why getting I’ll Be Gone In The Dark to print was so important to him. But it’s MY belief that reviews should be honest - and honestly??? I don’t get the hype. I don’t think McNamara’s writing is particularly brilliant unless you are interested in what type of clothing and music were popular at the time of a crime rather than details of the cases (not to mention the fact that she only wrote half of it before she died, making it EXTREMELY choppy); the timeline itself is 100% disjointed and hops from past to future to past again without rhyme or reason; despite the “EAR” or “ONS” or “EAR/ONS” being responsible for 50+ crimes hardly any are covered in this book; and last, but certainly not least, McNamara doesn’t seem to have had too much insight into the case at all, but rather an obsession/borderline addiction where conjecture rules and fellow couch commandos are considered experts (if you’ve ever been on a site like Websleuths or the like, you’ll know the exact opposite is true).
Bottom line is: I don’t think this would have ever been published were it not for her husband being famous and making it happen as part of his grieving process. Good news for everyone involved is that the Golden State Killer wound up being caught which gave I’ll Be Gone In The Dark new life and a sort of cult following and very few people who want to go on record as “poo poo-ing” it due to McNamara’s untimely death. Obviously I drank the Kool-Aid because I read the thing too. I’m just also willing to shit on everyone else’s sundae....more
Ever since I finally got brave enough to attempt audiobooks several months ago, I’ve methodically been revisiting Sedaris’ work. If you haven’t experienced his stuff before, I’m telling you audio is the way to go and Naked is David Sedaris at his best. From being a little kid with O.C.D. in a time where such behavior was dismissed as “quirky,” to a young man living at a nudist colony, to his mother’s cancer diagnosis - Naked will have you laughing until you cry and crying until you laugh. An added bonus is his sister Amy lends her voice to some of the selections as well. Talk about my fantasy audible ménage à trois. The only thing better than the Sedaris siblings? Their mother. Several years ago I used to wish I could be her when I grew up. Now I’m thinking my wish came true which I think is awesome, but probably terrifies my family. ...more
When this popped up over at the pornbrary’s “Recommended To You” page I didn’t have to do anything other than look at the title before hitting the request button. I was ready to declare once and for all to the pornbrarian that . . . .
But then I realized maybe he/she doesn’t know me quite as well as I thought they did because there were like eleventy-four people ahead of me in the queue and I very much have the mindset that This Is America and OF COURSE I Want It Now! Mind you, I had no idea who Matt Bellassai was. I simply bemoaned the fact that my entitled butt would have to wait a hot minute rather than receive instant gratification. Then I did what I do best and forgot all about this book until finally my turn did come around and I checked out the synopsis.
Here are some things to know about me:
1. I still don’t really know who Matt Bellassai is, although his book made me laugh the terrifying “what if I lart” (definition below) laugh that happens when old ladies attempt to contain their guffaws whilst reading at work.
2. I’m not positive I know what a Buzzfeed is either and no I’m not interested in looking it up, but apparently that’s how this guy initially became famous. (I think there was some other Buzzfeed thing that I wasn’t familiar with and some of you tried to explain to me, but alas I am dumb and also maybe have early onset dementia so I don’t remember any specifics.)
3. I do not and will not ever (yeah yeah, immortal Bieberish words remind me to . . . .
but I feel pretty comfortable saying never here) spend my free time watching You Tubers or vloggers. (I started jotting down my ramblings simultaneously with reading this book, so I now know that Bellassai isn’t a traditional “You Tuber” – I think – maybe, but he did do a video on the internet that went viral so tomato/tomahto.) My husband and friends can’t even get me to watch Netflix and that is a simple button on my remote that I don’t know how to work, but at least I know exists. I refuse to use a computer once I leave the office and my phone is for making phone calls (and about twice a week to send a text it takes me 14 years to type out since I insist on using real words and punctuation). I have nothing against You Tubers or viral videologists – I’ll just be leaving the addiction to watching their videos to the youth of the nation. That being said, I have still not taken a gander at Bellassai’s (apparently People’s Choice Award winning) web series.
4. I frequently complain (even when I enjoy their stories okay) about youngsters who write memoirs because they haven’t lived long enough to have accrued experiences that fill a “life story” and instead seem to be cashing in before their 15 minutes of fame runs out. That’s why I’m choosing to call Bellassai an “essayist” à la David Sedaris. His stories may be about himself, but they are presented as snippets of life rather than an autobiography and also because I am allowed to be as fickle as I would like to be.
Okay, so now that you’ve had to endure allllllll of that overshare, here’s the point: I was not and am not familiar with Matt Bellassai – something I’m sure he would be completely comfortable with since I highly doubt middle-aged, fat, married women are his target demographic. That being said, this book was FREAKING HYSTERICAL – to the point aforementioned that I was more than a bit concerned I might laugh fart (a/k/a lart) since I was trying my best to not allow any raucous sounds to escape my body from one orifice and that those sounds would therefore choose a different one. And although I’m almost certain that I am nearly old enough to have birthed this boy (should I have chosen motherhood instead of high school), we are of one mind when it comes many different topics and especially to one particular terrifying entity:
“Say one wrong thing, however innocuous yet hilarious you think it may be, and you become Teenage Girl Enemy Number One. I’m chubby, gay, pale and a whole decade older than most of them, which means I might as well wear a sign that says, “Hello fellow Internet users, please destroy my entire life.”
If you are in need of something light that will confirm that - no, your new mascara is indeed not waterproof, this might be the book for you. Now I have to make an exception to everything I said up top and FINALLY Google this cat in order to watch the Drunk at Work or whatever the fuck his shit is called before my friend here at the office bludgeons me to death with my stapler : )
IMMEDIATE EDIT: Google search officially complete (or as complete as I want it to be which means I watched one video and now I'm going to figure out what book I'm going to read next). I deactivated my Facebook account around a month ago for all of the reasons listed HERE. Matt Bellassai is my Patronus....more
When I initially posted the "review" below (based solely on leaked segments) the day before Fire and Fury was officially released, I had no idea my little bit of nothing would get as much attention as it has. I also didn't really plan on reading the book. But then somehow the library decided it should order SIXTY copies of the thing and I went from 90th on the wait list to it being my turn before even a week was over (many thanks to the patrons who either removed their names from the list or made a point to return the book right away so everyone could get their chance) and there was a snow day so I had no excuse not to dive right in. So what do I think now that I'm finished? Well, I think we elected fucking Fredo to run our great nation . . . .
I stand behind everything I said before. This was indeed simply a "tell-all" as I originally believed and probably contained a "bigly" chunk of tabloid journalism (which surprisingly focused A LOT on the Bannon/Jared & Ivanka relationship). It's convenient that one of the most quoted figures in the book is Roger Ailes who is now dead. But at the end of the day does it really matter which quotes are real or who leaked what when it comes to sort of a "National Enquirer" type of bestseller? Trump said it best when he said the following about his supporters:
"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."
If nothing else has been confirmed for me since the inauguration (aside from the fact that Trump had the biggest crowd ever in attendance *eye roll*) it is Trump's own quote above and this point that Fire and Fury makes over and over and over again . . . .
"He could not even attempt to imitate decorum."
And THAT is something that no one will ever be able to fix when it comes to this 71-year old man. Let's just hope America wakes up by the next election before Trump turns our country into a "shithole nation." : (
Today our Führer is attempting to prevent this book’s release. People quoted in the book are also coming forth denying they said some of the things attributed to them. If a copy of this (literally) falls into my lap – like from the sky while I’m sitting on a park bench or something – I may read it. As for what has been leaked so far regarding its contents? All I have to say is . . . . .
OF COURSE Trump didn’t think he would win the G.D. election. No one in the universe did. He put his name in the hat as a marketing ploy for his failing brand. Unfortunately for America, no one drinks the Trump Kool-Aid as well as Trump himself so once he was told there was a chance he could win he brainwashed himself into thinking he was qualified for the job.
OF COURSE he sleeps in a different bedroom than Melania. Melania had ZERO intention of ever moving from her gilded penthouse in Trump Tower until the powers that be told her she was obligated to for the sake of public appearance. It’s not like she really hides her distaste when it comes to her husband . . . .
OF COURSE Rupert Murdoch called him a “fucking idiot.” HE IS ONE. I guarantee Tillerson called him a moron too.
OF COURSE he is so delusional he believes someone would poison him. Hell, it’s probably someone in his own family … or someone who married into his family only to be used as a patsy.
OF COURSE he hates the Obamas. Every single move he’s made since being elected is an attempt to delete Obama’s footprint from the history books. At this point one could only be thankful if the reasoning behind Trump’s disdain is because they were “very arrogant” rather than because The Donald wears a white robe and hood around Mar-A-Largo on the weekends.
OF COURSE Ivanka has her eye set on being the first female president. It’s pretty obvious at this point the Trumps like to fancy themselves as a new and not-so-improved version of the Kennedy clan.
OF COURSE Trump doesn’t read or “really even skim,” but instead engrosses himself in television viewing in order to see just how “fake” the news is that day in order to be able to Twat about it while taking his 3:00 a.m. constitutional every night after his handlers have retired to their beds. Is it really surprising Trump isn't a big reader? He is, after all, the dude who has “the best words” such as . . . .
Once again DUH MOTHERFUCKER. You were the only one stupid enough to believe a fucking white supremacist had the best interest of the country at heart.
OF COURSE everyone who works in the White House right now hates everyone else. Kelly hates everyone most of all. Thank Jeebus he loves this country enough to keep trying to stomp out the dumpster fire which is this presidency with his bare feet every day.
Was I the only person who equated this release to a Kitty Kelley sort “unauthorized biography????” Now, thanks to Trump and his merry band of minions – along with their cease and desist demands, this is sure to be a bestseller . . . .
Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim might be my favorite collection yet. I could seriously kick myself for not only not trying audiobooks before this Fall, but also for not thinking of collections like these as something that would fit into my short commute time perfectly. We’re talking true . . . .
Even while in a stupid ass Fiat rather than a Volkswagen since mine decided to die like a whore on the corner a few months back. And when work got like WAAAAAAY too worky the other day and I was afraid I was going to full out pull a Milton . . . .
I opted to schedule a mental health vacay day instead and went home to immerse myself in my favorite type of therapy this time of year – decorating Christmas trees (with an added bonus of listening to the soothing sounds of David’s dysfunction this go ‘round). Dress Your Family was a great blend of stories of the Sedaris children and parents (words cannot express how much I adore Sharon, their mother), the Sedaris children as adults, David and Hugh and everything in between. Thanks to the combo of some sort of sinus condition/basement dust I lugged upstairs along with the decorations, I laughed until I was overtaken by an emphysema-ish coughing fit/wheeze that may or may not have concluded with me urinating a bit on myself - and if THAT isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
I’ve put a hold on every other available Sedaris audio in order to get myself through the end of the year without (hopefully) causing bodily harm to anyone at work. Now I just have to deal with a cat who is terrified of Santa’s impending visit after hearing the story of “6 to 8 Black Men”. . . . .
No it isn’t. Read the story. Anyway, I keep telling him we don’t live in Amsterdam so he doesn’t have anything to worry about, but I think it’s pretty obvious by the look on his face that he doesn’t believe me . . . .
Before I even begin this ramble, I feel a disclaimer should probably be provided regarding these 4 Stars. If you have not yet had the privilege of experiencing David Sedaris’ essays, you most definitely should not begin with Theft By Finding. Pick up any one of his other collections and read that first. Then repeat. Repeat again until you reach superfan status and you’ve started fantasizing about how delightful it would be to wear him around like a skinsuit as a beck-and-call-boy for your constant amusement. That’s totally normal, right????
Right. When you reach that point of fandom, you’re ready for this.
Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 is exactly what the title states – various diary entries that span several decades. Sedaris himself said this book should be read in snippets. If you are of the ilk, this would be a perfect selection to have readily available whilst sitting on the throne. Since my gastrointestinal system is of the “all or nothing” variety (TMI??? Naaaaaah!) and I wouldn’t dream of defiling my lobster’s work in that manner, I can’t confirm or deny if this is the way to go. I can, however, confirm that the early years are a rough read as you follow Sedaris from his 20s in Raleigh where he more than dabbled in methamphetamines and underemployment as a starving artist while consuming daily feasts at the local IHOP. You LITERALLY read the phone book as well as random recipes and lists of what he got for Christmas and various other nonsense like what happened that day on As the World Turns or the off-color joke a co-worker told him that day.
If you can get through the first 20% or so, it becomes smoother sailing. David puts down the meth pipe and details his initial successes as a playwright in New York City all the way to becoming a best-selling author and residing in Paris. He lets you in on his family history – including his mother’s death and his sister’s battle with mental illness and includes some truly poignant entries . . . . .
“Last night under the stars in a pasture in our sleeping bags, I poured my guts out and said things I was afraid to admit even to myself. And you know, it felt good and not as hopeless as I thought. All that had been inside for so long.”
While I could have lived without the never ending submissions regarding his various French classes, unforgettable moments in history are documented within its bindings . . . .
“There is a new cancer that strikes only homosexual men. I heard about it on the radio tonight.”
“Hugh and I awoke to the news that Princess Diana has been killed, literally hounded to death by photographers.”
“Last night on TV I watched people jump from the windows of the World Trade Center.”
As well as monumental moments in his personal history . . . .
“This spring I am, if I’m not mistaken, in love.”
Most importantly, around the 25% mark Amy moves to the same town and made my life complete when her various antics began being included . . . .
“Amy and I went to Hoffritz to find Dad a Father’s Day gift. Our original idea was to buy him a knife, but in the end we spent $72 on a vibrator. It’s a Panasonic with a long stem and a thickish disk on top, designed so you can reach behind yourself and work out the kinks in your back and shoulders. We also figured he’ll use it on his dog. “Our father’s going to love this,” Amy said to the saleswoman as we laid the vibrator on the counter. The woman smiled. “The next time we see him, though, I bet his front teeth are all chipped.” The smile faded. ”
Amy is the kind of asshole I dream of becoming one day. Hysterical with absolutely no filter. David and I both tend to be more of the “George Constanza” variety when not in writing . . . . .
There was little to no doubt in my mind when I requested an advanced copy that I would be denied so I immediately put myself on “pre-hold” at the library well before the release date. Words cannot express how happy I am now that I did not read this early, since it allows me to quote the story that caused quite the embarrassing moment at work . . . .
“Lisa told me that the previous day she’d accidentally put a used Kotex through the wash. It went through the dryer as well, and when it came out, Bob held it up, saying, “These aren’t supposed to be laundered on their own, are they?” Lisa said she guessed not, and Bob asked why she’d washed just one of them. “I looked for the other and couldn’t find it anywhere.” “The other?” Lisa said. “Shoulder pad,” Bob said. “Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about?” He handed here the fluffy clean Kotex, still warm, and she put it in her dresser drawer until he left the room.”
I read that during lunch yesterday and while I was trying to muffle my laughter, my supervisor confused the noise for hysterical sobbing. At that point there was no way I was going to be able get myself back under control and, well . . . .
Due a combination of Sedaris’ epic rise in fame here in flyover country along with my crippling phobia of strangers in crowds, I most likely will never be brave enough to attend one of his readings and officially declare us besties for the resties. But we’ll always have our mutual love of America’s best television program as an unbreakable bond . . . .
Then she added in a homeless-as-fuck looking kitten for the cover art as a bonus and I was sold.
(Have no fear, Samantha Irby, I am far too lazy to actually leave the comfort of my couch in order to stalk you properly. It shall strictly be via the intertubes.)
Several years ago I had a bit of what you might call an addiction to the blogosphere. It started with The Bloggess and other “mommy blogs” like People I Want To Punch In The Throat and several more I can’t remember the name of now and also Hyperbole and a Half and I Can Has Cheezburger (because DUH) and Shit My Dad Says and Damn You Autocorrect and Texts From Last Night and Texts from Bennett and Parents Shouldn’t Text and one about what a dog’s texts would say and on and on and on.
Now I know this might seem insane to you guys, but I’m actually pretty fucking good at what I do for a living. And if you think I read fast? Well, you should see how quickly I can draft and file a pleading or create a closing binder. Like a boss, yo. Long story long, with an entire universe of fellow weirdos right at my fingertips and zero desire to interact with actual, real-life humans - like EVER – the rabbit hole became harder and harder to pull myself out of once I got in and I knew I could end up getting fired if I let myself go there at work. Then Jenny Lawson wrote a seriously disappointing second book that made me realize our pretend friendship probably wouldn’t work out so well after all and the entire imaginary bubble burst so I quit blogs pretty much cold turkey (and began to focus on memes and gifs – lucky you). All this is being disclosed to let you know I had never heard of Samanthy Irby before seeing this title so I can provide zero insight as to whether this is fresh material or simply “upcycled” content from Bitches Gotta Eat that has been repackaged with a mangy cat on the front.
As soon as I saw this thing (somewhere at some time ‘cause y’all know my momma must have dropped me on my head a time or twelve since I cannot remember shit), I ran straight to NetGalley in order to get a copy. Then I noticed the publication date had already passed and forced politely requested the porny library order a copy. Which they did (probably because they’re scared of me by now, but whatever it takes, right?). Oh and NetGalley? You can go ahead and decline me. You know you want to and since I managed to land a copy already there’s no need to keep pretending you’re not going to . . . .
Good news is, since this wasn’t an ARC I’m allowed to quote it. And quote it I must because you need to know if your big girl panties are actually large enough to handle what Ms. Irby is about to throw at you – a/k/a I’m pretty sure you probably need to be at least 72% asshole to truly find her relatable. Lucky for me I’m 97.4% asshole so she was my lobster.
Shall we start with the sewer rat looking mah fah with the yellow backdrop? That’s Helen Keller. Irby was forced to take her in as a roommate when a co-worker brought her crusty eyeballed self in to the animal clinic for saving and they couldn’t force her on anyone else with a clear conscience . . . .
“Could you imagine if Helen was your boyfriend? You’d wake up at five thirty in the morning for work, tiptoe around so you don’t wake up His Highness, stub your toe in the dark multiple times while hastily dressing in clothes that you won’t realize don’t go together until you’re out in daylight waiting for the bus, and spend twelve hours slaving under a brutish dictator, only to come home and find that your companion is lying in the exact spot in which you left him. Except now that the sun is up, you see that his stinky body is curled around that sweater so new you haven’t even had a chance to take the tags off yet. And then what does he do? Get up to greet you with a kiss and a shoulder rub? No, that animal yawns in your face before taking a shit with the door open and asking how soon you can get dinner ready.”
And then she wrote literally an experience I have at least weekly with someone I work with . . .
“Joanna . . . asked me the other day to give her the name of a good book I’d read recently, and . . . I stood in front of her for, like, three real minutes cycling through every book I’ve rated on Goodreads in the last three months trying to determine which one would be the most impressive. I just stood there with my ears on fire wondering if I should just say A Little Life because no one would think you were dumb if you made it all the way through a seven-hundred-plus-page book. And I didn’t; I did not make it through that book, because a quarter of the way in, this other book about teenagers in love that I wanted to read came out, so I abandoned the smart shit to spend an afternoon sobbing over a story about children.”
Not to mention how she once had to pay twenty-seven dollars IN ONE DAY to the swear jar her boss put on her desk (please boss, don’t ever do this, I can’t afford it), or how she spent her formative years waiting for the moment Drake would get up out of that wheelchair on Degrassi and come for her, or that she’d rather be dead than hot in the summer, or that she knows not only all of the cast members of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (past and present), but also all of their children, pets and significant others by name, or when buying a garment for the pool she’d like to request to “see your most opaque turtleneckini and your finest ankle-length swim bloomers,” and admits to having things called “outside pajamas” . . . .
That was the moment my husband and manchild “shushed” me because I was making it hard for them to concentrate on the ever-so-important MLB draft because apparently we’re getting a cut out of the signing bonuses this year or something?????
Maybe the most amazing thing of all is how Irby was able to mix in some real talk and serious subject matter and still keep it light (excluding one thing which I am TOTALLY going to spoil below so you don’t go in unprepared like me). She didn’t shy away from sharing about her abusive upbringing and a run-in with a pervy weirdo, her sexuality, medical problems, etc., but never in a “please pity me” way. She even offered some real truth big gals need to hear right now in case they think they aren’t allowed to have any self-worth just because they’re fat. Simply put, Samantha Irby wrote something amazing. I’ll definitely be picking up her first book Meaty sometime.
Now for the spoilsies. The goddamn cat died . . . . .
I should probably leave well enough alone and not post any sort of review regarding little Zippy, but I’m not gonna. I’ve been seeing this title pop up on various lists and whatnot for YEARS now and always managed to avoid it due to the eternal question I ask myself whenever I see a memoir written by a non-famous person: “WTF was so special about you that you think everyone else wants to read about it???” But then the dang thing came back again when I was perusing the Faceplace and saw my library’s weekly question post, which this time around was “what’s the last book you read that made you laugh out loud.” Some of the answers provided by rando strangers on the interwebs I agreed with, some made me want to find out where they live so I could go smack them around a bit for obviously being super unfunny people and probably a real drag to hang around with and then there was Zippy. Again. I popped over to GR and saw my few friends who had read it had enjoyed it and then I noticed reviews from others. Those people belong in a category I like to call . . . .
It didn’t take long for me to figure out this might be my type of memoir when on Page 2 I discovered the author’s sister’s reaction when she discovered Haven Kimmel planned on writing about growing up in their small town was . . .
“I know who might read such a book. A person lying in a hospital bed with no television and no roommate. Just lying there. Maybe waiting for a physical therapist. And then here comes a candy striper with a squeaky library cart and on that cart there is only one book – or maybe two books: yours, and Cooking with Pork. I can see how a person would be grateful for Mooreland then.”
Since I had already read Cooking with Pork myself, I figured what the hell. And what did I find? First, I really did laugh out loud and second . . .
“It’s a memoir, and a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning.”
I spent nearly the entire book trying to figure out why (aside from the fact that a lot of pieces of Zippy’s life – especially those of the camping variety - seemed to mimic my upbringing) I was having quite the spell of déjà vu all the way up to the last page when finally it dawned on me . . . . .
WTF? I thought I was signing up for something that triggered everybody and their brother, not one that made my eyeballs get tingly with happy tears about dogs as Father’s Day presents or the most magical Christmas ever.
Now, before you go putting this on your TBR, here are some things I know almost for certain about the people who will be able to enjoy this book:
1. They need to be a bit long in the tooth. This is the story of a girl who was brought up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It’s not what you would call “politically correct” so the younger generation will definitely find 1 or 12 things to get worked up about.
2. They need to be familiar with small town life. We’re talking about real small town life – Zippy grew up in a town with a population of 300.
3. They have to be able to differentiate between animal abuse and (i) farm living as well as (ii) the foreshadowing that your neighbor Petey Scoggs might grow up to become Jeffrey Dahmer.
4. An appreciation of this statement regarding food groups as being gospel: “fried, meat, bread, coke, and ice cream. She was an excellent cook.” A first-hand knowledge of the difference between a FryDaddy and a FryGranddaddy is also a necessity.
5. A pretty iron stomach, being raised with an aluminum Christmas tree (and if you were rich, the accompanying color wheel) in your house (and not because it’s awesomely “retro” now – even though I agree it is), knowing how bad it sucked to have to “ride the hump” or sit in the “way-way back” of the Family Truckster on road trips, and quite possibly have your only braggable talent being that you could “sing along with every word of a complicated song” (for Zippy, it was the “canticle part of Scarborough Fair” – for me it was We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel).
Did you answer in the affirmative/take a trip down memory lane with respect to all of the above? If so, maybe you should give this one a try . . . .
Let’s get my main bitch out of the way first. While J.D. Vance admits in the introduction that he has not yet accomplished anything in his life, he still turned what could have been a real page-turner of a family history or some sort of socio-economic type of observational study into being all about him. Part of my lack of enjoyment may be blamed on the fact that I work in a law firm so reading the doldrums of the author’s schooling/interviewing/clerking processes were all a massive snoozefest for me and seemed like filler when the author should have just quit while he was ahead. Another reason is I’m flat out tired of famous 20 and 30-somethings writing their “life stories” when they haven’t even lived yet. When non-famous people do the same my reaction can get a little more volatile when it comes to their personal horn tooting . . . .
The main problem with Hillbilly Elegy is that it isn’t quite sure what type of book it’s supposed to be. I wish Vance would have stuck to this being a “memoir” as the title states. He could have followed the direction of Jeanette Walls and written about his childhood – with a particular focus on Mamaw. Mamaw might be my favorite character of all time. I’d say I want to be just like her when I grow up, but I’m almost certain I – along with the people I choose to surround myself with . . . . .
already are (minus the pistol packing and hoarding of garbage). Mamaw was the glue that held a pretty sprawling family together. Nearly every story involving her had me busting up laughing. She was someone who came from nothing and took no shit when it came to keeping what little she had together . . . .
“Mamaw told Papaw after a particularly violent night of drinking that if he ever came home drunk again, she’d kill him. A week later, he came home drunk again and fell asleep on the couch. Mamaw, never one to tell a lie, calmly retrieved a gasoline canister from the garage, poured it all over her husband, lit a match, and dropped it on his chest. When Papaw burst into flames, their eleven-year-old daughter jumped into action to put out of the fire and save his life. Miraculously, Papaw survived the episode with only mild burns.”
Rather than not trying to fix what wasn’t broken, Vance’s work becomes a bit schizophrenic when it migrates from memoir and attempts to focus on the community as a whole. Although many of the attitudes and mindsets contained within the pages of this book were already well covered with the HBO documentary American Hollow, Hillbilly Elegy does a bit of bait and switch by taking the hillbilly out of the hills and instead following a population who, at some point in their family histories, migrated into towns. Unfortunately, Vance loses focus yet again when he broadens his sights even further and begins talking about working class white men as a whole. I’ll let you choose to read the book for yourself and see if it reads with more cohesion for you than it did for me while stating that the people who should read this are the least likely to. Mainly those who fit this bill . . . .
“There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.”
That mindset has grown to such epic proportions people are actually offended by women and minorities protesting because “all lives matter” or some other malarkey. Not to mention a twatting ignoramus/washed up reality show star has been elected as President by touting campaign promises like Mexico paying for a wall that will magically eliminate illegal immigration and create millions of jobs. I’ll mimic the book and put it on the record that the only people I’ve ever known who were/are abusing the system have been able-bodied white people, so GTFO with that woe is me bullshit. Although not in Appalachia, I too was raised in a small town (educated in a small town – taught to fear Jesus in a small town ™John Cougar Mellancamp) so I’ve heard about all I can of this type of rhetoric. At some point . . . .
“you have to stop making excuses and take responsibility.”
My family tree has no golden leaves growing from it. We’re poor, most of us aren’t well educated. We’ve been down and out, but thanks to the values instilled on us by our grandparents and great-grandparents and those before them, most of us simply pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when life gets rough. Those who don’t? Well, the longer they remain on this Earth the more glaringly obvious it becomes that they don’t want to do fuckall while they’re here and it won’t matter a diddly dang dong who the damn President is. ...more
The first sign that this probably wasn't going to be a great book is the fact that the blurb wasn't even a blurb, but rather the opening pages of the story. That should have served as my warning, but I was all about reading errrrrry book that went from “Read to Reel” and I didn’t even bother looking into this one at all before requesting it. Plus, the movie has received about eleventy Oscar nominations so it had to be decent, right? Wellllllllllllllllllllllll, the story was . . . . it was just terribly written and could have easily been an article in a Newsweek or Time type of publication rather than a nearly 300 page book.
A Long Way Home is about a boy named Saroo, who at five years old becomes lost from his family and winds up on the other side of India. Not knowing his last name and only that he lived in a place that sounded something like “Berampur,” Saroo is labeled lost by the Indian government and winds up adopted by an Australian family. As an adult Saroo becomes a bit obsessed and uses Google maps to walk the various train tracks in hopes of spotting something familiar that will reconnect him with his past . . . .
There you have it. It’s quite clear immediately that Saroo Brierley is no writer (and if I’m calling it out, you know it must be bad) and the fact that he was only five years old when he became lost meant hardly any details of his story were remembered. This could have been a much more comprehensive tale if it wasn’t so one-dimensional and used contributions from his families (in both Australia and India) as well as the juvenile detention facility and orphanage to help make it feel more complete.
I have a feeling this is one of the rare occasions where the movie will surpass the book. I mean, just look at this child . . . .
Man was I looking forward to reading this book. In case I haven’t made it really flippin’ crystal clear already, I’m a HUUUUGE fan of all things SNL. While others complain about bad seasons and bad casts, I am a constant defender and only acknowledge bad skits or bad reoccurring characters rather than opting to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I also believe Norm Macdonald is one of comedy’s most untapped resources. His dry delivery and “guy you’d like to have a beer with” approachability have made him a favorite of mine. Not to mention how well he did behind the news desk on the Weekend Update – that is, until jokes about a certain someone got to be too much and he ended up shitcanned . . . .
When it comes to reading books about SNL folks (or comedians in general, for that matter) I expect there to be a lot of funny ha-ha. While there was a blip about how a certain someone came to fruition . . .
In fact, there was practically nothing mentioned about anything. Instead, Norm’s “biography” read a little like a long, strange acid trip or a road trip similar to another I’ve read about before . . . .
Basically, Norm’s book is nothing but bullshit. He spins yarns of a high-functioning morphine addiction, doing hard time in the joint (as well as butt-rape, natch), and running up a million dollar all-or-nothing marker in Vegas. Out of 200+ pages the only things that seemed to be real rather than “based on a true story” were Norm’s unending appreciation for Adam Sandler’s friendship and all he has done in order to keep enough cash in Norm’s pocket to keep purchasing his Wild Turkey 101 . . .
“Bill Murray has shown up everywhere, from the sideline of the 1986 NFC Championship Game, wearing an old-fashioned leather football helmet, to the Mediterranean island of Yeronisos, volunteering as a digger on a 2006 NYU archeological expedition.”
At this point Murray sightings/random interactions have reached almost Urban Legend proportion. He may photobomb your wedding photos - or if you’re a hipster invite himself to participate in your game of kickball – or even just appear right behind you and grab you in the pu$$y cover your eyes while asking you to “guess who?”
Over the course of the years, Bill has “developed an onscreen persona: the wiseass slacker who gets the girl” . . . .
Along the way he has made nearly the entire world fall in love with him. The Tao of Bill Murray provides a bit of backstory regarding his entire acting repertoire, providing details of how his improvisational skills made for some of the most memorable of moments . . . .
He is an actor who makes directors like Sophia Coppola say things like . . .
“My wish came true. Bill Murray did my movie.”
And demonstrates that . . . .
“In both comedic and dramatic roles, he brings the ineffable spark of Billness.”
But rather than being some puff piece on Murray’s filmography or a snoozer of a biography, this book focuses on the more important things in life. Like using your best “Carl Spangler” voice to prank call one of you best friends who just so happens to be married to Kelly Lynch of Road House fame . . .
“No matter what time, two in the morning, it’s ‘Patrick Swayze’s fucking your wife right now.’ It was kind of funny, the first dozen or so times.”
For me, as a lifetime lover of Chicago Cubs baseball, the highlights of The Tao of Bill Murray were hands-down the various moments shared regarding Bill’s time at Wrigley Field where he prefers to sit “up among the weird and the damned.” . . . .
Bill’s love of the game shines as he remembers the time he filled in for legendary broadcaster Harry Caray (who was recovering from a stroke) in 1987. As Bill says, “that was the peak of my performing career. That was the peak – what I was born for.” And he shows he has zero shame when telling Amaris Ramirez “I’m going to be in the hospital – I’m very sick. Could you hit two home runs for me today?” He is a fan of epic proportions who is able to cross all boundaries of fandom due to his celebrity status – placing bets with players about whether or not they can steal bases or even showing up in the dugout during the game bearing gifts of beer and chili cheese fries. Most importantly, even though the Cubs haven’t won a series since 1908, Bill reminds us all that this could be our year . . . .
After reading A Man Called Ove last week, I was afraid nothing would compare and I’d be stuck in book hangover mode unless I picked something totally different from what I normally read. I decided to go to the library website incognito in order to not get the typical porny recommendations made “just for me” and get the generally recommended ones instead.
Obviously A Walk In The Woods was a book that appeared on the list and I remembered way back when I was thinking about reading Wild a certain Georgia peach said I should read this instead because at least if I hated it she was almost certain I’d at least get a couple of laughs. And she was correct. Right from the start Bryson declares . . .
I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, “Yeah, I’ve shit in the woods.”
I pretty much decided right at that point the author was probably my people. To begin with he described his state of living as “waddlesome sloth,” which is a lifestyle I support 110%. He followed that up with a shopping trip to buy necessities such as “a big knife for killing bears and hillbillies.” And then he sealed the deal by taking his old friend Katz along for the hike . . . .
“Jesus, I smell like Jeffrey Dahmer’s refrigerator.”
In case the above didn’t clue you in, Katz isn’t exactly what you’d call politically correct. You’ve been warned so don’t come crying to me about what a disgusting manbearpig he was. Here’s another tidbit at what my new best friend Katz brings to the table . . . .
Good lord, look at you! What have you been doing? You’re filthy. You haven’t been screwing hogs again, have you, Bryson? . . . They’re not clean animals, you know, no matter how attractive they may look after a month on the trail. And don’t forget we’re not in Tennessee anymore. It’s probably not even legal here – at least without a note from the vet. . . . Come sit down and tell me all about it. So what was here name – Bossy? Did she squeal a lot?
These two were a hoot. A regular Odd Couple taking the reader on a potential life-threatening comedy of errors. From freak snowstorms to uninvited tag-alongs on their journey.
(SIDENOTE: Apparently the role of the uber annoying Mary Ellen is played by none other than the lady who voices this delightful little lady in the movie version . . . .
While it’s obvious that Bryson fell in love with The Appalachian Trail on his journey, there is a lot of info dumping that occurs because of this love. The history of national parks/the Army Corps of Engineers/the forestry industry as well a detailed inventory of flora and fauna and random tidbits and “fun” (in a macabre sense of the term) facts regarding different locations along the trail sometimes left my mind wandering.
That being said, A Walk In The Woods is an adventure I won’t soon forget. I didn't know until this weekend that there’s a film version. I hope to check it out soon because . . . .
Per usual when I read a good hardcover, (1) I failed to watch my children play in their baseball games and instead kept my tunnel vision pointed directly at the book and (2) the flagging of the pages happened which made all of the parents around me give me the “that b*&^% be cray” look . . . .
If you really want to provide yourself a justifiable excuse to hate the human race, this is the book for you. Evicted follows the lives of several people living in poverty and trying (or not, as the case may be) to get ahead. From Sharrena – the slumlord, to her tenants Lamar – a man who lost his legs when they froze while he was high, and Arleen – a woman who already lost children to the system, but is trying to hold on to her two youngest, to Tobin – the owner of a trailer park and Lenny – the “property manager” of sorts, to Scott – a former nurse who got addicted to drugs and couldn’t stop the downward spiral, to Larraine – the resident looney tune of the park.
Matthew Desmond immersed himself into the lives of these people – living with them rather than just conducting a few interviews and going back to his comfortable lifestyle. The story he presents is one that reads like a novel rather than non-fiction. Filled with dialogue and experiences rather than statistics it was a truly un-put-down-able read and it allowed me the opportunity to confirm what I’ve known for quite some time now . . .
Every single person in this story was despicable in at least one way, shape or form and made it impossible to ever really feel sorry for them. You want to side with the landlord who is getting screwed over by tenants who don’t pay the rent, but manage to buy dope, smokes and booze – but at the same time you want to kick her ass for charging people to live in uninhabitable conditions (literally, a house she was charging $600+ for was CONDEMNED). You also want to feel for the mother who has $20 left to her name after paying rent – until she opens her mouth and proves she believes she is owed something for doing nothing and takes advantage over and over again of ANY generosity shown to her. You feel for Larraine, because obviously she is in need of some mental health services – until she becomes one of the oldest clichés in the history of the food stamp recipient who spends her entire month’s sum on one lobster and king crab dinner. I could go on and on . . .
The lesson to be learned here is glaringly obvious. The system is broken. It’s been broken since the Five Points were built in the 1800s and it’s not getting any better. Evicted didn’t spend time getting preachy or even offering up more than a couple of suggestions on how to potentially relieve some of the pressure on the impoverished. It just laid everything out there in black and white and that is maybe the most compelling argument of all.
Review copy received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review....more