Tuesday, July 17, 2012

summer reading

A little break from the visual art:

1. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed is as good as you've heard. This reviewer compared the book—a woman's experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail—to the best Jon Krakauer writing, and I'd agree: It's like a first-person "Into the Wild," told by a woman who doesn't have a death wish but is just really really messed up. And then, in the most compelling and funny and moving way, she gets un-messed-up, despite a too-big pack (baggage!) and too-small boots. As with the best confessional nonfiction, she's like a friend you miss when you finish the book.

2. Diane Keaton could have written a standard Hollywood memoir; she's certainly got the material for one. "Then Again" is a stranger and better book, I think; though she leaves out or skims over huge parts of her life (Warren Beatty!), she weaves her own memories with passages about her mother's life, as well as some of her mother's letters and journal entries. Turns out they were kindred souls, but her mother was simply born too early to enjoy a fulfilling creative life like her daughter has.

3. Mindy Kaling's "Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me" could have been just a Tina Fey ripoff. (Both women write, produce, and act in beloved NBC comedies.) Indeed, just like on "Bossypants," she's even got the embarrassing childhood photo on the back cover. But damn if that photo isn't hilarious—as is her entire book. It's also sweet and spot on. I love her grooming advice for men: wear a pea coat and Chuck Taylors, and let all the women out of an elevator first.

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