If I could best describe my reading pattern lately, it’d be horribly tragic memoir followed by something I hope will make me laugh. February was no exception. I ended January’s round up with telling y’all about “The Kiss”, which disturbed me to the point that I had to immediately jump to something light.
“We all accept too easily that life has to be hard and forget to make sure we have the most fun we can.” – Amy Schumer
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
I am decidedly an Amy Schumer fan, so this celebrity memoir was an easy sell for me. I’ve seen Trainwreck more times than I will admit in public, have watched every episode of the Amy Schumer Show and I saw her live when she came to Austin last fall. All of that fandom should have prepared me for her memoir, but actually I was a bit surprised.
For much of the book, she is different than expected. There are chapters on being an introvert, on how she is not (typically) into one night stands, on her issues with her mother and several other topics that aren’t inherently funny. Now I did giggle consistently throughout this book, so it was funny to me and there are parts that are fairly hilarious. However, the memoir gave me more than that. Schumer presents a more multi-faceted self in this book, and we begin to learn how much of her stage present is an act. The answer is a lot more than I originally thought.
My only beef with the text are two chapters from the end, which were verbatim from the live stand-up I saw last fall. If I hadn’t been at that show, I wouldn’t have cared… but when she writes a lot about being a comedian and the struggle to create new content – I tend to expect new content.
Nutshell version – If you like Amy Schumer, you’ll like this book. If you think Amy Schumer is sometimes “too much” in her comedy, you may still like this book because in most chapters she’s really toned back and more human. I think this is a solid choice for a light hearted memoir that will make you laugh.
“It is possible to make family any way you like. It is possible to love men without rage. There are thousands of ways to love men.”
― Lidia Yuknavitch
The Chronology of Water: a Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch
Well Schumer was a brief respite of tragedy that I enjoyed, because Yuknavitch is… not. This memoir starts off with the still birth of her daughter, and doesn’t exactly get uplifting from there. That being said, I devoured the first half of the book like someone who was parched (water reference… see what I did there?).
Yuknavitch tells the story of her life in flashes and feelings, and it’s a kind of experimental writing that I can get behind. Sometimes she’ll have run on sentences that purposefully last for paragraphs, but she only employs that style when it’s purposeful and effective. I’m the kind of reader (and writer) that likes a structure to works, and Yuknavitch flirts with boundaries everywhere without completely abandoning traditional prose.
There are times I want to roll my eyes at her, and there are times where I stop cheering for her as the narrator and think, HOW MANY BAD CHOICES CAN YOU MAKE WOMAN??? But overall, I find her endearing and her writing beautiful.
Nutshell version – If you’re a trigger warning kind of person, this entire book is filled with them. Yes, it’s a memoir about tragedy but it’s one woven with beautiful metaphors and sentences that make your heart feel as if it might stop. I suggest this for anyone that is a fan of literary memoir or wants to relate with someone who’s had intense struggles in life.
“Everyone who’s had intentions knows they mean much more than actions do.”
– Lauren Grodstein
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
I haven’t read fiction in a long time, but I picked this book up to prep for an academic interview. After the darkness and intense reading that was Yuknavitch’s memoir, this suburban family drama was a welcome respite. Though a lot easier and more comfortable for me to read, don’t think that the subject matter was trite. Told from the male head of the household in his mid-fifties, the story touches on dark themes and interpersonal issues within a family all from the confines of a beautiful suburban home.
Pete is a successful doctor with a lovely wife, house and practice in the New Jersey suburbs. Everything is picture perfect until his son starts derailing from the life plan and is taken totally off the rails by a friend of the family back in town. Even though it’s a story of high drama in suburbia, the book is a page turner. I clipped through it as quickly as I did Girl on the Train, even though there’s very little mention of murder (notice I didn’t say no murder).
The ending came quickly for me, and was pretty succinctly summed up compared to how much Grostein drew the drama out over the course of the novel. Still, I enjoyed the book. She nails the male perspective as well as the pressure of being perfect in typical family life, which is something I can relate to having grown up in a similar household.
Nutshell version – If you enjoy fiction and reading for interesting plot twists, this is a book for you. It’s quite accessible for all types of readers, and is only going to mildly deeply disturb you versus leave you feeling like there is no point to living.
February was a short month, so I didn’t get as much reading done as I meant to. Coming up for March we’ll have another comedy memoir, a literary memoir and hopefully something on nature if I can stop watching sitcoms and finish the damn thing!