I stopped by a branch of the Brooklyn library before leaving for Christmas at my parent's and picked up the books I had requested a week prior (thank you BPL for that option!!):
Books to read for December and January:
Originals by Adam Grant (amazing! reads like a mix between Freakonomics, Malcom Gladwell, and Derek Sivers)
You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (disappointing so far...seems like a shallow and less funny version of Nora Ephron. Also a surprising amount of typos in this book of essays.)
UPDATE (12-27): I've finished reading Klein's book of essays, and I feel like I've eaten a big bag of stale potato chips. Not salty or crunchy enough, just a hint of cardboard, yet compelling enough to continue eating the bag through, mostly because of lack of any other options.
In the genre of comedian memoirs, this falls far behind Tina Fey's, Mindy Kaling's, and even Sloane Crosley's collections (edit: just Googled and noticed that Crosley actually reviewed Klein's book for the NY Times). I'm going to rank order all the books in the genre that I've read in the last year and a half, as there's been a good number.
Biggest blehhh about "You'll Grow Out of It" is the lack of depth. Her woes and personal stories all lack real true peril or angst, but her emotions reflect way bigger stakes. Her essays regarding all the (very) expensive vacations, spa getaways, and trips that she takes with friends, her future husband, or just herself, are far cries from the average person's struggles, yet she regales us blow by blow of how much mental anguish she was going through (at almost 40, her boyfriend still hadn't proposed, or, even less interestingly, she couldn't find the perfect wedding dress despite shopping at increasingly expensive stores, like Bergdorf Goodman's).
Her stories check every box of barf-inducing New York City snowglobe navel gazer:
- Expensive education, vacations, eating/drinking habits
- Long essays talking about her (essential to normal functioning, somehow) therapist
- Zoloft/Ambien/not able to face the world without drugs and copious amounts of alcohol
- Degree from Vassar (personal pet peeve, like the whole of this list really, but seriously, have you ever met someone down-to-earth or remotely clued into the rest of the world who attended Vassar? Please, let me know.)
- Struggle with dating functioning, human adults. Prefers self-imposed "manchildren"
- Long diatribes about hating her body, in multiple instances, despite the above mentioned therapy, expensive vacations, and creative dream job (comedian, writer, Emmy-winner, etc)
- Attempting pregnancy past normal fertility age and the struggles (emotional, financial, and physical) that go with trying to fight nature (in her case, to please her husband. Only later does she admit to possibly wanting a child, though of course, in the NYC way, with a night nurse, nanny, and all the prerequisite angst at having so much privilege, yet still feeling ungrateful and unhappy).
I know the bullet points above seem very critical, and yes, it's a fact, I am critical that these common narratives get published over and over, when it's a very NY/LA specific set of circumstances/angst. It's annoying and hall of mirrors-ish. What I'm more interested (and need to seek out!) are the stories of successful writers/comedians/creatives who came from circumstances other than NY, LA, etc.
Witches in America by Alex Mar
We'll see how much reading I can fit in in the next few days now that last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking, and cleaning are over. I'm glad to be in rural upstate New York where the thickly clouded, gray skies lend the perfect excuse to staying in and reading all day.