Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
To my mind, Paula Poundstone is the funniest comedian I have ever run across. I have not seen her perform in person, but I watch any and all of her televised appearances, and I listen to NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" just to hear her sublimely funny ad libs. In televised live appearances, she usually ends up talking with individual members of the aiudience, and she is incredibly quick with really funny come-backs.
This book is Paula's telling of the events of the several years before the book was written. In other words, she tells us about her run in with the law over driving under the influence while her children were in the car with her. She was found guilty (or pled guilty) of child endangerment and abuse, among other things. In her telling, she does not deny anything or try to make excuses. She tells it honestly, while at the same time finding humor in the situation and in her alcoholism and rehab experience, and making it clear that she is crazy about her 3 adopted kids.
This book made me laugh and almost cry at the same time. I am so glad that she narrated the book herself -- her delivery is part of what makes her so funny. If you have ever enjoyed seeing or hearing Paula Poundstone, you will enjoy this book. Read it!
Celebrity autobiographies always seem better to me if they are narrated by the celebrity. In Society's Child, Janis Ian reads her own story. While she is not a practiced or dramatic narrator, hearing the book in her own voice increases the listener's personal experience of the events Ian has gone through. As an added bonus, each time the text refers to or discusses a particular song of hers (including at the beginning of each chapter) Ms Ian plays the guitar and sings at least a few bars of the song.
She has led an interesting, and not always very happy, life. Born in 1951 during the McCarthy Commie-hunting days, she had to move with her family from place to place in the New York/New Jersey area because her parents' left-leaning politics made them targets of the FBI and similar organizations, and her father had to keep changing teaching jobs. When she was 13, she wrote "Society's Child," and was touring with the song by the time she was 15. At many of those performances she was baited and threatened by people in the audience, accused of being a "n____-lover". Hard to take when you're 15.
Janis Ian went through a number of travails, many of which seem to have been the result of youth and a too-trusting nature. Several times in her adult life, she ended up close to penniless, and had to scramble to make a living. At the age of 27 she married a Portuguese man who turned out to be both emotionally and physically abusive. Getting out of that marriage while dealing with the IRS over taxes that were never paid by her tax accountant was slow and grueling. Eventually she found the woman who has been her partner for many years, and life has become brighter and fulfilling.
Of course not all of the book is dark. There are many interesting stories, including her meetings and friendships with Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, and the legendary acting coach Stella Adler; and the background and writing of "At Seventeen." And she discusses the happy times in her life.
A number of times in this book, Ian says that she often did not ask for help or even discuss many of her problems because those matters were too personal and she was very uncomfortable discussing personal things. After a number of years in therapy, she was able in her autobiography to reveal and discuss highly personal matters, and she was able to read them in this recording. In the end, what you get from this book is the story of a strong, brave woman who has been through a lot and has managed to reach a balance in her life. Well worth a listen.