Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book review appearing here for now.... 

I wrote this for But You Don't Look Sick back on July 7, but the webmistress has been very sick, and I don't know if she'll be able to post it or not. So in the meantime, I'll post it in full here....

Book Review: There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say
Author: Paula Poundstone

For your summer reading list, whether spent baking at the beach or keeping cool on your trusty sofa, how about something amusing? And just a tad controversial? With an unusual format? This book, written by comedian Paula Poundstone, is all of the above.

In one of her stand-up routines, Poundstone states that she agreed to write a book about herself, but when she sat down to do it, she couldn't think of anything to say. But she noticed that whenever someone else was talking about their life, it would remind her of herself. So she decided to dedicate each chapter of her book to a famous person, and, in the midst of telling their biography, offer her own story as a series of tangents. The result is mostly hilarious, often enlightening and sometimes surprising.

Hence, we get gems like this: "Lincoln died on April 15, 1865. I died once, for a minute. There is no bright light and nobody waving you anywhere unless there's a one-minute waiting period that I'm not aware of, or unless my friends and loved ones are avoiding me even in death: 'Psst - Cover the light. Cover the light.'" The chapters have off-the-wall titles such as: "Sitting Bull: A Great Warrior and a Heck of a Ping Pong Player".

Paula Poundstone has a strong sense of the ironic and can be blunt in her honesty. She doesn't shy away from topics such as atheism, sexuality and her well-publicized arrest for drunken driving. But she can find something humorous in just about every subject.

Interwoven with chronicles of the deeds of Joan of Arc, Helen Keller, The Wright Brothers, Beethoven and Charles Dickens are rambling tales of adventures in child rearing, attempts at operating household appliances and computers, and unsuccessful career moves. I found myself nodding my head in agreement and giggling, even on subjects for which I had no personal frame of reference. I rather enjoyed the stream-of-consciousness motif because that's how most real life conversations go, and this seemed more like chit-chatting with a friend than a fussy history lesson.

The book contains a brief forward by Mary Tyler Moore. At just seven chapters and 274 pages in hardback, it won't weigh you down. And I guarantee you won't confuse it with anyone else's tell-all tome.

Title: There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say
Author: Paula Poundstone
Publisher: Harmony Books
IBSN: Q-609-60316-7

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