I Know I Am, But What Are You? - Samantha Bee
There is an old chestnut, that comedians tell jokes to hide the sadness inside.
Samantha Bee appears to fit that tough-on-the-outside routine to a T. This darkly comic memoir tries to be sweet and occasionally even bright. But, what really comes through is not the weirdness of her life growing up but how that dysfunction has shaped her satire.
Not to say this isn't a funny collection of vignettes, too. I can't wait to steal her line about bathing - civilized people take baths; in showers, the water attacks you.
It's funny stuff. There is something to be said, though, for knowing why she thinks that way.
Quiet, Please - Scott Douglas
Among my friends, I count four librarians. I know another, though friend might be too generous a characterization.
See what I did there? How I cleverly turned my words on someone, making you come along for the ride?
It isn't that difficult to do. So I'm hard-pressed to be impressed with Douglas' memoir of life working in a public library. He manages to bemoan the lack of civility and the general decline in others' intellect and experience by using those very civil short-cuts from his own narrow view of the world.
In short, this is a memoir of a young librarian who still lives at home - in Anaheim - who has the strange insistence of looking down on others for not being as worldly as he. Did I mention he still lives with his parents?
Oh, I'm sure this isn't how the book was pitched. The book editors and agents were told this was a story about a young man who decides to become a librarian at just the moment public libraries are entering the digital age.
It's supposed to be a funny and insightful look at a dusty old world, confronted by such a hipster (note: hipsters have always liked to read, so suggesting that you can't be a hipster because you're a bookworm negates the likes of Kerouc and Ginsberg, but I digress).
Sure there are some good descriptions of the kinds of people who find libraries to be safe havens – the mentally ill, the mentally challenged, the elderly, especially. But did I mention
ArtBoy presented me this, as a gift. He tells me the origin of the book was a blog for McSweeney’s.
A blog would explain the inevitable narcissism. It doesn’t explain why a book billed as absurd and hilarious is so bland.
It’s not bad, but it’s not memorable. And when you’re writing a memoir, you should totally go for memorable.
Fat Vampire - Rex Adam
Team Doug. It's nothing like Team Edward.
Doug is 15, chunky and awkward when he is turned into a vampire. He will remain a geeky teen, then, for all eternity.
This is the premise of the least romantic and swoon-worthy vampire populating current fiction. In fact, Doug is not all that likeable. He may try to avoid his need for blood by leaching off random large mammals instead of humans, but being undead doesn’t affect his ability to be cruel to his one true friend or his reaction to a crush who doesn’t return his affection.
But it’s hard not to root for Doug when the Vampire Hunter TV host (think an even worse Geraldo) is on his trail. Or when he gets as a mentor the only vampire more strange than he.
The humor never stops, up to the final, ambiguous last page. Good stuff.