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Marie Angell has commented on (38) products.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Marie Angell, October 21, 2014

Look, I think this book is hilarious, as in laugh laugh laugh out loud in public many times kind of hilarious, and I'm a harsh critic of humorous writing.

That's fine for me and possibly for you, with caveats: (a) You are OK with profanity. A lot of profanity. Blackbeard the pirate saying, Watch yer tongue, madam, you are amongst sailors! kind of profanity; (b) You are introverted, insecure, have anxiety issues or commiserate with those who do; AND/OR (c) Are used to reading blogs and the sort of codified language of blogs, particularly The Bloggess's own, because knowing the cadence and some of the backstory makes you a receptive audience.

If you meet any of those criteria, throw your copy of War and Peace right out the bus window (not literally--have some sense!) and read this book sooner rather than later.

However, if people call you Church Lady, you are a man (especially a straight man, either sexually or in a comedy team), you are a 17th Century Lit major, not American, AND/OR consider yourself "normal" and that people with insecurities or disorders should just get a grip, there is a 92.735% probability you will not enjoy and possibly will be disgusted by this book. (That's my own calculation, not Nate Silver's, btw.)

Yes, the book reads much like her blog, although, unlike some reviewers, I didn't feel the material was simply printed blog posts. (Believe me, I have read some of those kinds of books--world of difference.)

I've also read a lot of memoirs by people with crazy relatives and various disorders and "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" outshines most others for humor, poignancy without vapidity or whininess, and pacing.

Comparing "Let's Pretend" to David Sedaris's work is pointless. Their work is really too different. Sedaris is masterful at capturing illustrative moments. Lawson is recounting her trials and tribulations for your amusement and, it seems, in the hope that others from the Island of Misfit Toys will not feel so all alone.

Lawson is great at what she does best: Write in a distinctive, very amusing fashion while providing candid insight to her inner life.

I have provided enough data for you to make your decision. Carry on as you will.

P. S. If you have a bladder disorder, stock up on Depends before reading. Fair warning.
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My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman
My Cross to Bear

Marie Angell, November 20, 2012

Your enjoyment of this book is likely to directly correlate with your interest in the Allman Brothers Band, either through being a Baby Boomer or a musician. Otherwise, it's a coin toss.

Certainly you get a something of a sense of the forces that shaped Gregg Allman and the rocky road leading to the creation of the Allman Brothers Band and the drive that sustained it. You get some intriguing glimpses into the hard work of creating music and the rough business that is the music industry. The one thing this book best accomplishes is showing that playing music for a living ain't easy.

While the book is amazingly prolific in recounting the chronological journey of Gregg Allman's life, it's frustratingly devoid of real depth. He continually refers to women as "beautiful" with little detail, states that music managers stole from the band but seldom explains how, and jumps through all his marriages with only odd bits of scene. As a lurid for-instance, he tells us plenty about the Bob-Mackie created shirt Cher wore on their first date (and what happened to that shirt) yet only a few genuine elements of their marriage (including little more than a passing reference to producing a son in that relationship).

Not surprisingly, since celebrities tend to be just like us, Allman comes across as a moderately amiable man, more reactive than proactive, who remembers more than you might expect considering the amount of substances he abused.

The book reads very much like a long, fairly well-organized conversation with Allman, for which the glory surely goes to the under-credited Alan Light. Light certainly must have had his hands full trying to pull this memoir together. Having read a number of rock star memoirs, I appreciate Light for ensuring Allman's story didn't leave too many gaps in the history of the band, which is one of my chief complaints with memoirs (what I call "Then 20 Years Later Syndrome").

On the other hand, I wish Light had insisted on a few less "slept with this crazy but beautiful woman in this town, then a beautiful crazy woman in the next town" stories (stories which are usually not even fleshed out, so to speak, if you're reading only for salacious love life details). Better to have asked Allman to describe some key events and conflicts in more than passing reference, or least provided a little more than empty descriptives of so many people and events. Of course, that may have been the best Light could get out of Allman.

That said, most people who pick this book up for whatever reason will find themselves engaged, thanks to the varied topics quickly covered. On the other hand, the reader will be as likely to frequently wish for more detail, whether it be about music creation, Allman's sex life or a sense of the times.

Could be better, could be worse. Probably a song in that.
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Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-centered, Smart-ass, or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office: A Memoir by Jen Lancaster
Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-centered, Smart-ass, or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office: A Memoir

Marie Angell, August 12, 2012

Bearing in mind that this book fits very definitely in what is probably called the Chick Blog Book genre, it is a fine and funny read.

How much is exaggerated for effect is hard to tell, but that's not very important in the grand scheme of things. No one is holding it out as factual memoir. Ms. Lancaster has a clear, credible, quite outrageous voice and made me laugh out loud (several times in the doctor's office, where I almost hurt myself trying to suppress the giggles--ow! Medic!). I'm a pretty tough audience so kudos.

It's a smart move on Ms. Lancaster's part to have something of a theme for each of her books. In "Bitter Is the New Black" the lesson imparted involves pride going before a fall and be clever and persevere, but she conveys her message without going all preachy, which is a huge relief these days.

This tactic gives a bit of structure to the books, which I appreciate, since many of these kinds of books are simply random blog posts lacking in cohesiveness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it highly for those who like this kind of thing. But you may want to avoid reading it in quiet, public spaces. Just sayin'.
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The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

Marie Angell, May 18, 2012

Whether you have followed Chris Guillebeau's "Art of Nonconformity" blog or not (though I encourage you to do so), there is a huge amount of useful information and inspiration packed into this book and he generously adds more for free on his website for the book.

The great thing about "The $100 Startup" is the step-by-step approach designed to increase your comfort with starting a business and reduce your fears. By encouraging the reader to begin a low investment business around a personal knowledge base and fulfilling a customer's need (one for which you'll get paid, that is), the terror of risk is minimized.

Through numerous case studies and total transparency about finances and challenges, Chris illuminates the framework of modern cottage industries.

These are not get-rich-quick schemes and some people rake in more bucks than others, but Chris encourages everyone to know exactly what they really want and need from a business as well. Wouldn't it be great to be a millionaire? But can you get by without being one? Sure.

In all of his work, Chris espouses the philosophy of not "living on less" but "living more." And that, my friends, is the best way to create a new future.
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(14 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Marie Angell, September 5, 2011

The book is thoroughly enjoyable, but, as others have noted, is uneven and has a somewhat undeveloped feel to it. That said, it is a cut above many books of this type and is good enough to encourage further exploration of Neil Gaiman's work.

It is an appealing book that draws you into the story, but it's hard to create a world and juggle every single nuance finely. If the reader is not a nit-picker and likes this kind of fantasy adventure, go for it. I have no regrets. In regard to the book anyway.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)

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