BROOKLYN, NY, United States | Member Since 2011
Brilliant Warped Life
I totally rolled the dice with this one. I wasn't previously a fan of the blog; so I didn't know her. Usually I look for memoirs by super-successful people about how they got that way. But Audible recommended it to me based on my preferences, and it sounded like the kind of humor I would enjoy based on other blogs I like and podcasts that make me laugh. Boy, did it ever! Jenny has a way with words that knocked my socks off. And she's extremely good at taking what could be stream-of-consciousness rambling and making it endlessly entertaining.
Jenny as herself is absolutely hilarious and her long-suffering husband Victor is a hoot, but I'm actually tremendously impressed by the empathy she made me feel for her dead. He starts off seeming kind of off-putting - really into hunting and taxidermy and stuff I find pretty distasteful. And his antics (which often involved imposing wild-ish animals on his family) seemed gross. But by the time he's dumping out a bag of ducklings for his grandkids to enjoy, I came to see him as a big-hearted guy who wanted to share his joy of animals with kids while they're still wide-eyed enough to enjoy them.
Laughed out loud a lot, but - fair warning - there are passages that involve interactions with animals (both living and dead) that definitely made me clench in that OH MY GOD THIS ROLLER COASTER IS FALLING way. I don't mind the sensation - actually, I kind of think it's an impressive feat for a writer - but PETA members may not be amused.
Kudos to Jenny for a) singing her chapter titles in absurdly funny ways and b) the collection of her rambling out-takes at the end - pure brilliance!
"The Help" has just become my most rewarding audiobook experience ever.
One of the book's strengths is the many voices that tell the story. Abilene, Minnie and Miss Skeeter are a tremendous trio of narrators, and as their story unfolds, it is a delight to hear - not only their voices in the first person - but also the voices of the many other characters, white and black, southern and (in one hilarious case) "New Yawker". I found it particularly delightful when each of the narrators would appear in a scene narrated by one of the others. I liked hearing what they sounded like to each other.
The story is both one of relatable human relationships - nannies and babies, friends, partners in secret writing projects. But what makes them outstanding is the world of rules in which they live - the sharp divide between white and black people in Mississippi as the Civil Rights movement began to earnestly question ideas like "separate but equal."
But, truly, as good as the tale is, it is the way it is being told that wins the day here. You feel for this women: You feel their love and desire to be loved. You feel the icy chill of the racism. You feel joy as each, in her own way, awakens to her own potential beyond the dictates of what society has told them they are.
And it just sounds so darn good.
It would be impossible for any follow-up to "The Devil Wears Prada" to match the original in terms of the sheer "I can't believe she'd expect that!" quality of Miranda Priestly's expectations. While there are certain insider tid-bits about how a real magazine works in "Revenge...", it could be more rewarding on that level.
I know that soapy relationship drama - friends betraying friends, husbands and wives going behind each other's back, people from one's past reappearing out of nowhere, even falling in (maternal) love with one's own children - are Weisberger's stock in trade, but the most exciting material for me came when Andy was working - the book could use more of that.
Megan Hilty is utterly charming and has a knack for making conversations jump off the page. She's especially good at differentiating between Andy's fraught interior monologues and the somewhat-more-put-together things she manages to get our of her mouth. I especially enjoy her employment of oversize accents for some of the more larger-than-life characters.
Absolutely. It was easy and breezy.
While it doesn't match the magic of the original, all the good will I felt for the characters (both from the book and the film) came rushing back and made me immediately invested. And though I've complained above that the book is heavier on less-inventive personal drama and lighter on more-interesting work drama, I did find myself invested in the characters' trials and tribulations and surprisingly charmed by Wesberger's portrait of Andy as a new mom. That said, I'm very glad they got the fabulous Megan Hilty to read this book. Without a doubt, she elevated some of the more meh parts with her sparkle and pizzazz.
After a number of books with equal or greater weight given to fables starring animals, Sedaris is back to telling the iconic stories in which he confronts the foibles of modern life and mines his past for stories of growing up Sedaris.
You get a little bit of everything - from modern day Sedaris navigating the beauracratic absurdities of living abroad to the young Sedaris family gathered around the kitchen table, trying to stop their father from attacking their friends. Sedaris finds warmth and humor in unexpected places - taxidermy, for example, and a colonoscopy. You can't help but laugh out loud.
The audiobook skillfully combines the fun of Sedaris reading before a live audience (with the - to be expected - accompanying raucous laughter) with the intimacy of Sedaris reading in a studio that made his first "Adventures in Santaland" so memorable.
Yes. Laugh and laugh and laugh!
Overall - great production. This is a fabulous collection of essays - offering lots of essays drawn from life and a few of his more over-the-top fiction pieces (relegated to the end). Intriguing musical (and other sound-based interludes) make one feel that the producers were interested in creating a coherent whole, and - as someone who enjoys both Sedaris live and Sedaris in-studio, I appreciated the mix of both.
I'd been putting off listening to "Girl Walks into a Bar" because I'd previously enjoyed other audio books that include behind-the-scenes of "Saturday Night Live" type memories (Bedwetter, Bossypants). I'm pleased to say that Ms. Dratch proves once again that each performer's time at SNL is different enough to captivate all over again; plus - here - it's part of a much larger personal narrative.
While she gets a lot of comedy mileage out of the parade of not-quite-worthy potential mates, Dratch never loses sight of what their interactions reveal about herself - without getting preachy about it.
Ms. Dratch has an uncanny sense for delivering inner monologue with all the conflicting impulses and over-the-top hilarity that so commonly marks a neurotic's conversations with oneself.
Definitely a laugh-out-loud book, and definitely a can't-put-it-down.
There is so much to love about this memoir, which anyone who's interested in what it's really like to work your way up through the ranks of television comedy should find very illuminating, but I have to give particular kudos to the book for two reasons:
1. As a gay reviewer, I found Fey's portrait of her many young gay friends figuring out their sexual identity's a nice combination of funny, sensitive and honest. The time in a gay person's life when he/she has either figured out their sexuality but not had sex or started experimenting sexually but is not sure what it means for their identity can be very confusing. The fact that Fey both manages to create portraits of these young people that both point out their foibles while acknowledging why they might be so en-foibled (yes, I made up that term) is like a successful high-wire act that incorporates a chair and a dog.
2. Apropos of Audible, this is DEFINITELY a book that's worth hearing in the audio format, even if you've read it already. Fey's intonations, imitations and inflections are not only super-enjoyable if you're a Tina Fey fan but also add a richness to the text that's characteristic of writers who have experience writing for performers.
"It is a testament to my parents that they never reacted negatively to the 4 year Pride parade that marched through their home." -Tina Fey, "Bossypants"
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