Friday, May 20, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on May 19, 2011
Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Anyone who likes the television shows Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock will be a big fan of Tina Fey. Since I watch neither, I was skeptical about liking her memoir, expecting it to be a name-dropping, pop-culture bit of fluff meant to capitalize on her current popularity. Well, she does drop a few names and references a lot of pop-culture (because that does sell books), but what impressed me was how open she was about how her opinions formed about issues (yes, issues – cleverly disguised amid many anecdotes), her own life epiphanies, and her management style (which no doubt influenced her character Liz Lemon). She mentions the scar that she notoriously hates to mention, but just to get it out of the way – do not expect any sordid details. In fact, aside from a few F-bombs and some observations about the hygiene differences between men and women, there are few shocking tales at all. I hope that does not put off thrill-seeking readers, because this is one funny, laugh-out-loud book. Ms. Fey’s celebrity status may not be relatable, but as a woman and a woman manager, she certainly is. She had the bad haircuts growing up and unrequited crushes. She worked at summer camps and as a minion in larger corporations. She has struggled with weight and body issues (see chapter All Girls Must Be Everything), and - believe it or not - having her voice heard. Having navigated these hurdles and reached celebrity status, Ms. Fey’s account of “celebrity” is refreshingly balanced – it is what we all think as we see endless streams of Photoshopped stars dancing, dieting and rehabbing – it is a weird, weird life of publicity, ratings and critics (see chapter Amazing, Gorgeous, Not Like That). Yet, Ms. Fey treats it as all part of a job that she loves.  Yes, her comments are highly acerbic or satirical, but juxtaposed with normal everyday observations they almost always take you by surprise, and will cause irrepressible and sometimes embarrassing snorts or guffaws to escape one’s lips – just in case you happen to be opening your copy on the bus, train or dental hygienists’ office, which will cause you to be “blorft” (see chapter 30 Rock: An Experiment to Confuse Your Grandparents). You are now warned. 

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