never send a pretty lady to do a funny lady’s job…
which is only a little unfair. because her tweets, upon which she built her following and fame, are really funny. or at least the ones in the publisher-issued promotional material stuck in this book are – i am not someone who is super-savvy when it comes to twitter or the rest of those online spaces that have given us such internet celebrities as allie brosh, jenny lawson, grumpy cat, or lang leav.
–How do you get red wine stains off a baby?
–Web MD is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the ending is always cancer.
–It’s too bad that everyone who has a solution for everything is at home commenting on the internet.
and my very favorite:
I still feel like Katy Perry is what Hugh Hefner would do if he got his hands on Zooey Deschanel.
that is very funny stuff.
but i feel like this book is not as clever as those tweets, and maybe long-form writing isn’t her forte. michael jordan was not a great baseball player, after all.
the opening line of this review was my lame attempt at a clever twitter-style homage, and i am in no way saying that pretty girls can’t also be funny, because – duh. however – there is a certain kind of pretty girl *koff*sloane crosley*koff* whose humor is cocktail party kind of humor, where pretty people are fawned over and drunkenly told “you are so funny!” more than is true because people like to gravitate around pretty and ingratiate themselves by making shiny people feel
good even better about themselves.
but that kind of encouragement only enables confidence to metastasize into arrogance
it’s weird to write a book review for a memoir, because in a way, it’s like you are writing a review of a person – judging their life. and i’m more trying to judge her delivery, but it still feels weird. see, the way she relates her exploits can come across as smug and self-absorbed; the ones focusing on her childhood seem embellished, assigning very sophisticated thoughts and speeches to her young self, and she admits to several antisocial tics that are kind of like how patrick bateman’s diary must read:
I tried to make my face look interested. Ninety percent of the time I’m listening to someone is spent wondering if my face looks interested enough.
or after she is having sex with a man in a park after getting a short haircut and they are mistaken for a gay couple and had rocks thrown at them:
I don’t even think about the hate crime in progress. At this point I’m so angry at my hair, the hate crime seems loathsome but inconsequential.
that’s the kind of shit that only a pretty girl can get away with saying.
and she knows it:
she gives off the impression of candor, by expressing opinions that civilized people just don’t say, like when she is working at a care facility for individuals with brain injuries:
I retreated to the corner of the room as he pulled her elastic pants down and undid her adult diaper. My first thoughts: no bikini wax, atrophied thighs, but all around a good body. I immediately hated myself for thinking it, but thanked myself for not saying it out loud. I was way too unprofessional to be in there. I was a crude and terrible person.
or in another story
He seemed harmless, but he was hanging out with a group of Asian guys, which I did not think was normal. That’s not racist, that’s observational.
and she is willing to discuss things like peeing her pants in line at a gas station, having to give herself an enema in the emergency room and how her trip to the zoo with her children was ruined by her hand being covered in her son’s shit. however, this seeming lack of vanity is undermined by the way she slyly peppers her stories with compliments she has received, like when her friend says to her “We look the exact same, but you have bigger boobs. and He looks at me longer than he should, causing one of his leggy girls to sneer at my rayon sweater, again, aaaand “You have a good body. What’d you steal?”,and from another person and another story altogether altogether: “Seriously, you have a really fucking good body. I’ve been doing this since I was sixteen. I know girls’ bodies, and you have a hot body. we get it, you’re hot. it’s subtle, but consistent, and yet since she will juxtapose these compliments with sticking her elbow in a stranger’s cum at a strip club, or puking all over some guy’s car while drunk, she can play the “i am showing you all my warts” card. but she’s not. because you never forget that she thinks she is better than you. no matter who you are.
she will say things like, I’m never catty. Cattiness is a girl-on-girl crime. I’m not biased; I have as much contempt for men as I do for women. I’m just being a regular asshole
but she still uses her gender as a shield.
“How do you know him?”
“He’s a fan of mine.” I hear myself and wince. God, I’m an idiot. It’s lucky I’m a girl – I’d be such a dick if I were a guy.
yeah, just because you have a vagina doesn’t mean you can’t still be a dick. hiding behind the pretty girl umbrella doesn’t give you much protection.
and this helplessness and entitlement
“I can’t work any kind of job that involves a schedule. And my high school diploma is only good for entry into two professions – waitress or janitor. How good is your life insurance?”
“I don’t know,” he said nonchalantly. “I think you’d get, like, fifty thousand bucks or something.” Then he turned on the blender to make a goddamn smoothie, as if this wasn’t the worst news I’d ever heard in my life.
so i guess it’s very fortunate that princess found twitter.
the magical negro portion of the LA story, in which she meets a black bathroom attendant, and complains about her life to the poor women, is probably the most emblematic of the fact that for her, other people are just put here on earth for her convenience. at the end of her story about how she never got to go to europe (she is 19 here), along with her other trivial problems, she realizes that her life is not as bad as she thinks it is, but she really does miss the bigger picture, and her takeaway from this experience is really just a symptom of a larger disease. she thinks she has learned that hey! perspective! my life is not as bad as it could be, but what she has actually done, in crowing to her friends about the magical negro she just met is to reduce another human being to a hackneyed trope that is already fraught with uncomfortable racial discomfort. to normal people. and we are the all the other people at the cocktail party; faceless, and expected to be in awe of her.
and it’s hard to feel sympathy for two nineteen year old girls who are on a road trip, complaining about how poor they are when they have just spent 900 dollars on a van to go on the road trip in the first place. and the way they end that particular adventure is a huge moral fail, which oxford completely recognizes, but still. most of her actions show a complete disregard for other people, except in the ways that they can be useful to her in terms of rides, weed, self-image.
it’s not a terrible book, i just wish she had been able to let go a little more, like jenny lawson or sara barron, two women who genuinely do not give a shit what you think of them, and aren’t worried if their butts look fat in their essays.