One thing I really liked about Bossypants by Tina Fey is that it was written by a writer. You know she didn't have help with it, or have it ghost-written like some biographies are, and you don't have to suffer through bad writing because the subject was determined to write it herself. (I'm not sure if that ever happens, but whatever.) It was a very engaging and funny read, because she is a skilled writer, and she can convey comedic timing and tone and all those things through writing. It sort of felt like you were just sitting beside an old crazy woman on a plane and your headphones broke so you had to listen to her tell you her life story, and it was funny and weird and entertaining. In the best way.
I think the paragraph that best sums up the book is this one:
"On September 3, 2008, then governor Palin accepted the vice presidential nomination. Around this same time, Oprah formally agreed to be on 30 Rock, and it was determined that my daughter's third-birthday party would have a Peter Pan theme. Each of these events was equally important in my life."
This paragraph shows how the book tries to balance Fey's life as a family member, her life as a writer/TV producer, and her life as an actor, and how they all co-exist in not just the book, but in her actual life, though sometimes not peacefully.
Bossypants is just what you'd expect from Fey: comedy, mostly self-deprecating, honesty, and quirkiness together in one big, hairy-armed package. (If you've seen the cover, you'll get it. If not, check the bottom of this post.)
It was cool hearing about her SNL days because c'mon that is just the coolest job, and she has worked with some amazing people, but she didn't talk so much about that. And Mean Girls only got the odd passing mention ('I named this character after my friend from high school who I'm telling you a story about.')
What you end up getting is Fey's personal history, growing up in small town Pennsylvania, intermixed with advice, both real and fake, and some funny anecdotes about her TV career.
My favourite parts included, in no particular order.:
The stories of her time at the YMCA. I liked this for a few reasons.
1. I think it is universally relatable because most people have had a completely soul-sucking job that they had to do just for the money and no matter how hard they tried to find the positivity it just kept on sucking every day
2. It was funny.
And 3. Most people probably wouldn't include a story like this in their book because it makes them look like an a-hole but Fey just straight-up says "That makes me sound like a jerk, I know." and ends the chapter. She's not afraid to seem like a real human being.
In fact, there are a lot of stories in here that make Fey seem like kind of an a-hole but she sometimes says " well, here's my side of it." to justify it and sometimes she just says "well that was dumb" and lets it go. It strikes the reader as very honest, the ability she has to own up to stuff and just be completely truthful not only with herself, but with her readers.
Any time she offers advice on anything. Such as:
- The rules of improv and how she applies them to her life (serious and actually helpful)
- Beauty advice (satirical but helpful in the way satire often is in that it makes you think)
- her list of things she learned from Lorne Michaels
- What to do to have a successful photoshoot (part satire and part serious, actually helpful)
- advice on breastfeeding vs. Formula (satirical but still helpful.)
When she responds to internet people's questions/comments about her.
How nice she is about her friends and how she doesn't mention any d-bags or a-holes by name. Just a classy gal.
The chapter titles. Top Four Favourites:
4. Sarah, Oprah, and Captain Hook, or How to Succeed by Sort of Looking Like Someone.
3. There's a Drunk Midget in My House.
2. My Honeymoon, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Either.
Overall, Bossypants is an awesome book. It's funny, there are some great stories in there, and it really does offer some good advice and perspective on things like gender politics, modern ideas of beauty, parenting, how to be a successful woman in a man's world, and how to look awesome in a white denim suit.
I don't have a rating system, just read it.
Books Read So Far in 2011: 11
Currently Reading: Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi.