Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bossypants: Hate the Cover, Love the Book

I've always felt like something was wrong with me because I'd never been a huge Tina Fey fan like so many other smart women seem to be. (And yes, by saying "other" I am implying that I consider myself to be a smart woman, too. Please don't tell me if you think otherwise.) In particular, most female writers I know hold Fey up on a pedestal and consider her not only a role model, but a hero.

It's not that I ever disliked Tina -- I thought she was good on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, was surprised to REALLY like Baby Mama (?!?!), and I enjoy 30 Rock. Even though Liz Lemon annoys the crap out of me, I realize Tina's the one who created the overall show and writes lines for all of the characters (though I do think part of my feelings stem from associating Tina too much with Liz). But for whatever reason, there's just been something about Fey I didn't connect to. Even now, after I've read Bossypants and have seen her making the publicity rounds on the late-night shows, she still kind of rubs me the wrong way.

All of this is why I was totally shocked to have LOVED her book. I mean, I LOVED IT. I read it straight-through in one sitting (or "one lying" I should say... I read it in bed) -- I think maybe it took five hours. And there wasn't a dull moment during that time, either. To be extra-cliche, I DID laugh... and I DID cry. And therefore I can't recommend Bossypants highly enough (though I do think women will enjoy it significantly more than men -- there's just a lot of female-centric stuff in it, what can I say?).

I just wish she had gone with a different cover because I cannot stand looking at that freakish image. Seriously. WHY?!?!

Anyway, the book is a series of fairly disconnected chapters (I think some were actually published separately as stand-alone essays at different points in the past) that cover almost all of Tina's life. What I liked is that I felt I really learned a lot about her and "the biz," yet she never resorted to trash-talking anyone, though I'm absolutely positive she could have. She also kept several personal things private, which is quite rare nowadays with "the juicier and more scandalous, the better" mindset that has pervaded memoirs and the media in general.

In another break from memoir tradition, she didn't puff herself up to be something more than she's not. If anything, there was an overabundance of self-deprecating humor, which of course had the effect of making me (and I can only assume the vast majority of other readers) feel like she really IS quite the awesome chick. Awesome because she is totally and completely normal. She had a good childhood, loves her parents, didn't do anything too crazy while growing up, and was able to make a living by following her passion. She comes off as level-headed and able to keep things in perspective. Her personality and humor is darker than I was expecting, but I found it refreshing that she copped to so many feelings of insecurity, anger, and worry. I knew I was reading her words -- not a ghostwriter's. And while I still may not be a card-carrying member of the Tina Fey Fan Club, I certainly see her in a different light now, and have more respect for her than I do for 99% of her peers.

If you read Bossypants, let me know what you thought!

- e


audgepodge said...

Grrr... I'm #16 on the wait list at the library. Will probably be awhile before I get it :P

I have to say, I do love Tina Fey and Liz Lemon. I can relate to a lot of the awkwardness of Miss Lemon! :P

Aunt J-ha said...

It was the first book I read on my brand new kindle & I loved it. I also read it in bed and ended up laughing so hard I woke my husband a few times- as annoyed as he was I couldn't make myself stop reading or even take the time to go to a different room.

Anonymous said...

It's not even the cover image that bugs me... it's the wretched design. Is that Palatino Italic? WTF?