Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Bossypants

Be warned: This review will might make you laugh. But don't worry. It's not because I've suddenly become funny; it's because I make reference to many pieces of Tina Fey's memoir Bossypants which sneakily makes it seem like I've developed a lot more hilariousness. I haven't.

In case you've been living under a rock, or any other such locale where you might never see a TV, magazine, newspaper, movie, billboard, etc. Tina Fey is a comedian (she wouldn't want to be called a comedienne, I don't think), TV/movie actress, writer, producer... (Do you see why I have a hard time believing you don't know who she is?) Bossypants is her little bit of insight into her life, her job, and quite prominently into what it's like to be a woman in her business. Though the book is far from being a preachy fem-Nazi feminist read.

Fey got her start in community theatre and, more importantly, improv. She has written for (and performed on) SNL (That's "Saturday Night Live" for the rock dwellers... To whom I ask: how are you reading this blog right now?), and most recently she has a little "non-hit" show called "30 Rock" which I hear is incredibly funny, (their Emmys would agree), but I've literally never seen an entire episode, so I can't really say for myself.  I mention these two "jobs" of hers because although the book is incredibly hilarious, (remember all the inappropriate laughing out loud I did?) it lacks a bit of flow. It's a bit of a mishmash of funny/interesting moments and things from her life, but they aren't necessarily told in chronological order. For a sketch comedy and sitcom writer, though, this would make sense. (Although Fey also wrote "Mean Girls" so it's not like she doesn't know how to tell a story!) Anyway, I'm likely to blame her editor for this. So, moving on.

The big story here is just how funny she is. I read this book lightning quick, mostly because I was laughing, and wanting to laugh more I saw the only route to this was to read more... and more... I spent a lot of time bursting out in laughter over simple word choices. She references feeling like an "asshat," writing "shit nuggets," and a desire for an old director to "go shit in his hat." In a brief discussion of motherhood she references a breast pump as a "Williams-Sonoma Tit Juicer." In this same discussion she also recalls different breast feeding methods. My favourite was: "one I like to call the Bret Michaels, where you kind of lie over the baby and stick your breast in its mouth to wake it up."

I want to be clear that it wasn't all lewd, fart-humour. (Though there is lots of that!) There's a bit of tenderness as she recalls bits about family and friends who helped her along her "journey to celebrity." And she does effectively highlight some of the struggles of being not only a woman in comedy, but a female in a position of power and authority (hence the title: Bossypants).

Recommendation: It's funny. Like, really funny. If you like Tina Fey, you'll love this book. If you're a woman with a sense of humour, you probably will like this book. If you're a man, you might like it, but you'll certainly laugh. So go read it. And then maybe we should all watch "30 Rock."

Up Next: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Usually when someone tells you more than once to read a book, you probably should read it. Unless of course it's your smelly, kind of awkward 3rd cousin who has been begging you to read "Attack of the Mustard Squirting Zombies Part 74" or something equally as cringe-worthy. Then maybe, use your discretion. But in my case, the recommendation is coming from my equally book-obsessed older sister, so I figure I must be safe. Also, there was a movie made of it (Groan, I know I'm reading too many of these film adapted novels)... PLUS beginning this Saturday, I have 5 consecutive Saturday weddings, so a wedding-themed novel might be a fun way to get more in the spirit. Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: One Day

"Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well.
Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance."

So explains the general theory of heroine Emma Morley. The words that guide her through her life and relationships, especially her experiences with the complex Dexter Mayhew. The much longed for best friend.

Few novels surprise me. When you read as much of the same genre and style as I do, you tend to catch on to the formula. I'm still not sure how it happened, but One Day by David Nicholls managed to both take my breath away and surprise me with events I should have seen coming. Each chapter is a brief photograph into the lives of the two characters at a new year in their lives over 20 years; two characters whose lives take very different paths after college graduation, but who form a complicated relationship full of the rises and falls true to any real-life friendship, romantic entanglement, or plain-old bond between two people.

The characters, Emma and Dex, Dex and Em, are complex, vibrant, and real. You fall in love with them and root for them despite their obvious flaws and struggles. Nicholls writes with an ability to make you feel with the characters, not just for them.  I laughed and cried with them. Felt disappointment, anger, confusion, and pride with them. As they moved on in their lives I could reflect on my own experiences of life just after college, and then imagine where I'm headed 10, 15, 20 years into the future.

Everybody has a love story to tell. It may not be as complicated as that of Emma and Dexter, or maybe it is. Maybe it's a lot of work. Maybe it's effortless and no work at all. Maybe you spend every day side by side. Maybe you're separated by space and time. Love stories come in all shapes and sizes, and One Day is one of a kind.

Recommendation: Read it right away... Then go see the movie!

Up Next: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fey's sense of humour is impeccable. I'm already about 40 pages in and I've laughed out loud several times. Many of those times being on an airplane... Not exactly the kind of place you want to be looking like a crazy person.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

All You Need to Know About ... The Giller Prize

While leafing through The Toronto Star the other day... (well, actually I saw a photo of a book on the front page and went directly to the noted section), I was directed to a story about this year's ScotiaBank Giller Prize.  The short version is that this year the public is being granted an award: The Reader's Choice Award. Though some angry bloggers interviewed for The Star's story would tell you it's a bad idea, this year, CBC.ca and the Giller Prize committee (if that's what they call themselves), are accepting nominations from the reading public on which book they think is most worthy of "Canada's richest literary prize."

A word on the prize itself:

I don't see a problem with giving the public a say on what they think is the "best." We're the ones buying and reading all of this literature anyway! The authors are writing for the readers, afterall, aren't they? And maybe... Just maybe... This will stir up some interest in Canadian literature. That's not a bad thing at all, is it?

Might I also point out that the novel Every Time We Say Goodbye once featured on this blog and written by Jamie Zeppa (an author local to my hometown) is on the list of books eligible to be nominated. Just sayin'...

I'm linking to the CBC.ca page where you can go to make nominations, read all about the Giller Prize, and learn how you can get involved as an enthusiastic Canadian reader. You only have until August 28th, so check it out!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Umm Hi... Remember Me?

Coming back to the blog after a month-long hiatus is a lot more awkward than I thought it would be... There's so much to say but I'm wondering if I'm just standing on the stage of an empty theatre now... Has the audience gone home?

Ah, who cares. I'm not too good to blog for no one... AND I know there's always randoms who happen to cross my page when they're killing time clicking the "next blog" button after they're done reading what they actually logged on to read. (Seriously, try it. When you're done reading mine, of course. It's quite addicting).

So, where have I been the month of July?

The honest-to-goodness-boring truth is that I was teaching summer school English (Gr. 12) and barely keeping my head above water. In between marking and planning super-engaging-spectacular lessons and activities (I try to be a SuperTeacher at times), I was struggling to keep ahead of my students in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. (What kind of English major has never read that novel!? ...This one).  After skipping only 1 chapter (Bad Teacher...) I managed okay... Except I was at school for 7am, and by the time I was done teaching, marking, prepping, and reading, it was usually 9pm... Which gave me enough time to veg-out mindlessly in front of the TV for an hour before passing out on the couch and hauling my sorry self to bed in an effort to do it all again the next day.  Throw in a few wedding-filled weekends, and I'm still not quite sure where the H July even went?

So, to recap...
Books Read:
1. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (Which I did enjoy despite the fact that it was "Required Reading")
2. The Summer of Us by Holly Chamberlin (Which I did not finish in July but in the early few days of August when school finished. I enjoyed it, but the mid-novel hiatus thanks to summer school kind of affected my enjoyment).

Now, with only one month of summer vacation left before I move 7 hours away from home and must find some kind of sustainable job, I plan to read as much as I can because in a month I won't have a lot of reading time because I'm going to get a great job that eats up a ton of my free time. Next on my list: One Day by David Nicholls... Coming soon to a theatre near you! Because I've prattled on entirely too long for an awkward blog-return, instead of describing it, I'll just post a handy video of the movie trailer. Enjoy!

I hope you have enjoyed my recap of this past month, and also my attempt at putting positive thoughts out into the universe in hopes that they'll come back to me. That's from a book isn't it?