Sunday, 12 June 2011

Bossypants by Tina Fey

From The Week of April 17, 2011

Ms. Fey may not have any novel contributions to make to the memoir genre. Nonetheless, her playful, mocking wit and her self-deprecating mien combine to imbue this account of her life with an affectionate, enduring charm.

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ms. Fey has devoted her life to comedy. After all, nothing less than love for ones art could cause someone to push through the doubts, the setbacks and the crappy odds of success to realize their dream. From her formative experiences at summer theatre camp and the Second City comedy troop, to her arrival on the public stage with Saturday Night Live and the creation of her own television show, she recounts, here, the milestones of her challenging journey to the top of her profession, all while lighting up her tale with a constellation of boisterous friends, commanding parents and hilarious colleagues. It would have been easy for Ms. Fey to gloss over her life pre-fame, minimizing it in favor of celebrity exploits that sell books and draw in new fans. But, winningly, Bossypants lavishes as much attention on the foibles and the humiliations characteristic of her early life as it does to the triumphant stardom of her current, successful chapter. This, more than anything else, demonstrates the core decency of one of the most widely known people in contemporary comedy.

It's not hard for memoirs to slide into insufferable navel-gazing. After all, they are often several-hundred-page paeans written about the author by the author. Yet I could not find a single self-reverential page in this breezy, funny and telling autobiography. Ms. Fey has a lot to say, about her profession, the state of American life, the difficulties of rising to the top and the exhausting challenge to remain there. She imparts this wisdom with the kind of grace and good humor that make her, I imagine, an irresistible personality. (3/5 Stars)

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