The Reading Life: Bossypants
This blog was simultaneously published at www.AprilLineWriting.com.
Here are some facts I learned from reading Bossypants that heightened my girl crush on Tina Fey.
1. Tina Fey’s first child, Alice (also a cool, old name, like Child’s), is the same age as my child within weeks.
2. Tina Fey was also an adult virgin.
3. She loves Williamsport. Or I extrapolate that she loves Williamsport in that creepy, fan-person way.
4. She is a good writer, and smart.
5. She exhausts herself to a greater degree than I do.
6. She worries about being a working mom, about being rich person, about having a nanny.
But what else?
What is this book? Is it a memoir? Is it a collection of essays? Is it a feminist tome? Is it just funny?
I mean, yes. It’s funny.
But that’s really all it is. It’s not especially challenging or literary. It does not reveal great truths, and often I found myself kind of both appreciating and getting worn out by Fey’s neurosis.
I enjoyed reading it, yes. And reading it the same year it was published (by only 2 days, but still), is a luxury indeed. A luxury I hope to have with more books in the very near future.
It also reminded me why my work with Billtown Blue Lit is so very, very important. More on this after the last heading.
The first third and last eighth were the best. The first third was about Tina Fey’s childhood and journey through adult virginity and Chicago improv and landing as a writer for SNL.
The last eighth was about her current family, her relationship with motherhood, traveling across PA and OH at the holidays, and whether or not she should have another baby.
Those parts of the book were honest and funny and they made Tina Fey like a real person with whom I would like to have lunch in ways that are brave for a public figure.
The middle remaining fraction (I am not good at math) had some good jokes, but it was about a world that only about 1,000 (this estimate is based on nothing, the point is it’s a small percentage of the actual population) people in the world will ever encounter: the world of making TV.
I enjoyed making the connections between the stories she tells in the book and episodes of 30Rock, in particular the pee jars. And I found her pretty constant amazement that she gets to keep making this super smart, weird show to be refreshing and sweet. It made me think that Tina Fey is humble.
I also particularly enjoyed the chapter about the photo shoot, though it was a little like reading about visiting the Moon. There is no universe in which I will ever be a Moon-goer.
People who get to write books by popular demand
So Tina Fey is a writer in real life, and that’s the only reason I’ve read this book. Will I ever read a book by Karadashians or by Snookie? No. But Tina Fey is also like Karadashians and Snookie in that she is a public figure who is also a pretty, young (in regular people years) woman.
She wrote the book because her agent or publicist or somebody told her she should. Because her fans wanted to read it, and because Sarah Palin also wrote a book, and that matters to people who have no powers of logic.
She does improv and writes comedy because that is what feeds her soul. Is this book soul food for anybody? I kind of think not. But I bet it sold more copies in hardcover than the book that’s sitting next to me that I got for Christmas, Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell. But I bet Blueprints is a way, way better read than Bossypants. I’ll let you know.
Tina Fey’s book is smart and thoughtful, even though it’s not literary. I’m counting it as evidence that the world will read better books if somebody bothers to stand up and shriek about them, invite their authors to do interviews and podcasts, and writes blogs about them, and in some future happy land where the literati have a greater societal influence, interview them on The View and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
And that’s the long-term objective of Billtown Blue Lit. To help the world see books that are smart and literary and feed souls. The way to do this is with people: a community of people who think this is an important goal.
Come join us. Invest in your future as a reader, in literary authors, and in the American Literary Canon.