Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review - Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants by Tina Fey
275 pages
published April, 2011

Synopsis from publisher:

On her way to becoming an award-winning superstar, Tina Fey struggled through some questionable haircuts, some after-school jobs, the rise of nachos as a cultural phenomenon, a normal childhood, a happy marriage and joyful motherhood. Her story must be told! Fey’s pursuit of the perfect beauty routine may actually give you laugh lines, and her depiction of her whirlwind tour of duty as the Other Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live takes you behind the scenes of a comedy event that transfixed the nation. Now, Fey can reflect on what she’s learned: You’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

My thoughts:

I should preface this by saying that I do believe Tina Fey is one of the funniest people working in show business today.

I think her social commentary is spot on, and her political satire second to none. Also, I know that nobody watches 30 Rock – really, I don’t watch it during its actual season, so I’m looking at myself here, too – but it is a pretty darn funny show. So when I saw this book at the library, I didn’t even hesitate.

This is not a memoir, so readers looking for a gossipy, tell-all about the shenanigans of the SNL cast are going to be disappointed. Instead, it’s a collection of essays, with topics ranging from summer jobs at a theater company, to body image, to marriage and family, to gender and sexism in Hollywood. Tina gives her painfully honest opinion about all, and doesn’t hesitate to point out her own shortcomings when called for.

The book reads much like I would imagine listening to Fey tell these stories would be like – in fact, I’ve seen a few reviews of the audiobook, and I am sure it would be a fantastic experience. Her style is conversational and loose, as if she was sitting across the kitchen table relating her nearly tragic honeymoon tale over a glass of red wine. She doesn’t hold back from calling people on their bad behavior, but she also doesn’t try to foist bad behavior on people – she gives them the benefit of the doubt until they prove themselves a d-bag, and even then she doesn’t necessarily always name names.

I really enjoyed her perspectives on parenthood, sexism and feminism, and body image, and found myself marking many passages to save. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“No one was ever turned gay by being at Summer Showtime, because that’s not possible. If you could turn gay from being around gay people, wouldn’t Kathy Griffin be Rosie O’Donnell by now?” (p. 32)

“I only hope that one day I can frighten my daughter this much….How can I give her what Don Fey gave me? The gift of anxiety. The fear of getting in trouble. The knowledge that while you are loved, you are not above the law. The World-wide Parental Anxiety System is failing if this many of us have made sex tapes.” (p. 53)

“We should leave people alone about their weight. Being skinny for a while (provided you actually eat food and don’t take pills or smoke to get there) is a perfectly fine pastime. Everyone should try it once, like a super-short haircut or dating a white guy.” (p. 116)

“Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue. In what other profession would you brag about not knowing stuff?” (p. 220)

I had a great time with this book. I found it to be smart, funny, and enlightening – a rare combination these days. I highly recommend it.

Finished: 7/24/11

Source: South Side library

MPAA Rating: R for language and adult situations

My rating: 8/10


bermudaonion said...

Even though this book isn't a memoir, I thought it revealed quite a bit about Fey. I loved the fact that she stressed that women don't need to compete with each other.

Zibilee said...

I am really interested in reading this one, and have to decide if I want to listen to it on audio with my husband, or read it on paper. It sounds like a really excellent book, and also very funny. Thanks for sharing your perceptions with us about it!

wereadtoknow said...

I remember being overjoyed when I saw that my school library's teeny-tiny recreational reading section had this book, and I snapped it up so fast I'm pretty sure I ended up with some weird hybrid between tennis elbow and whiplash. And I LOVED it! I wrote an equally glowing review, and I have to agree - Tiny Fey might just be the funniest woman alive. Thanks so much for a great review!

Kailana said...

I am looking forward to reading this one of these days!

quirky girls said...

I heart Tina Fey. Definitely want to read this one.


Luxembourg said...

I literally laugh out loud at least once every page. I don't get why the other commentors are hedging and saying it's only for hard core Tina Fey fans. I have always liked her, but after reading this book, NOW I love her. This book gives insightful thoughts on what its like to be a (successful) woman in a male-dominated workplace. I absolutely respect her more after knowing how she got to where she is today. Fey's memoir is smart, self-deprecating, and loads of fun to read.