Tag Archives: autobiography

Amy Schumer the Next Comedienne To Pen Memoir

In the growing list of female comedians who already have or plan to pen memoirs or books of essays — Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Anna Kendrick — we now have another to add to the list: Amy Schumer.

Who’s surprised? Not me! She’s had a fantastic year, and now Entertainment Weekly is reporting her book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, sold for between $8-10 million. Apparently her book was shopped to publishers all over Manhattan, but Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Book finally put in the highest bid.

No word on when the book is set to be published, but I think it’s safe to say it’s bound to be a bestseller!

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Review: Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Recap: Rob Lowe has always wanted to act, ever since he was a young boy growing up in Ohio. So when he hits it big by the time he’s 15, but not as big as some of his other friends and colleagues — like say, Matt Dillon or Sarah Jessica Parker — it can be disheartening. But then the Brat Pack happens. And then Rob Lowe’s teen hearthrobbiness happens, soon to be followed by relationships and sex scandals and boozy vacations and — oh yeah — more movies.

Following Rob Lowe’s life through his first memoir opened my eyes (technically ears since I listened to the audiobook read by the author) to crazy stories that I would never have believed if I hadn’t read the memoir myself. Like how Rob Lowe encourage JFK Jr. to marry his then-girlfriend Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Or how he dated a princess he’d always had a crush on. Or how someone he knew was murdered shortly after he left their mansion. Or how he was on the same plane as some of the 9/11 terrorists the week before 9/11 happened.

Crazy things have happened to Rob Lowe — and what’s more, he’s been through the true ups and downs of the industry. He’s starred in hit TV shows and movies and ones that have bombed. He’s also starred in ones in which his parts have been almost entirely cut. He’s a recovering alcoholic. He had one of the first sex tape scandals. And yet, he also has a beautiful family and a wife of 20+ years for which he obviously cares deeply. He can do drama and comedy. He’s a force to be reckoned with, who you may or may not have paid much attention. But after having read this book, I can say this: he’s worth paying attention to.

Analysis: The reason Stories I Only Tell My Friends is so perfect is because it’s exactly what you want in a celebrity memoir — details on the scandals and addictions in that person’s life, behind the scenes knowledge of their most popular work, and an honest look at the kind of person he or she really is.

My favorite part was the section on Lowe’s West Wing days — a section which any West Wing fan would appreciate. But there’s also the section on SNL and the one on Austin Powers. And then, suddenly I realized how much Rob Lowe has been a part of the landscape for years, right under my nose and I never truly appreciated him until now.

He’s such a beautiful specimen of man, I’ve had a hard time thinking of him as anything more than that. To me, he was always a pretty face that happened to act. This book made me appreciate how hard he’s worked and how talented he is, especially to bounce back and forth between comedy and drama. Add all the personal stuff he’s been through, and he’s truly an amazing man. Okay. I’m rambling now. But you get the idea. This book encompasses him in a way that makes me feel like I’m one of Rob Lowe’s friends. Wait. With a title like Stories I Only Tell My Friends, maybe that’s the point.

Get Stories I Only Tell My Friends in paperback for $12.01.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Another Slew of Celebrity Memoirs

It happens every few years now — or really, maybe every few months — that a slew of young celebrities write and publish memoirs. In recent memory, those published by female comics have been the most successful. (Think: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling.) But in the coming year, the waters will be tested by actresses, singers, and writers who are all set to release memoirs.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Glee star Naya Rivera is set to release a memoir, entitled Sorry, Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up. Hers will detail her career ups and downs as well as her time spent on the popular Fox TV show, Glee, which ended its run earlier this year. Rivera’s book is set to be released next spring.

Entertainment Weekly also reports actress Gabourey Sidibe, best known for her turn in the Oscar-winning film Precious and the new Fox TV show Empire, is also working on a memoir. Hers is due out in 2017.

We can expect yet another memoir from singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, according to Entertainment Weekly. Hers will be a book of essays, detailing her life and the stories behind many of her songs. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) In Song is set to be released October 6th of this year.

Finally, Variety reports TV show creator/writer/producer Shonda Rhimes will also be releasing a memoir sometime this year. No release date has been announced, but Rhimes says hers will focus on how she’s managed her career as a single mother.

Now here’s the thing about memoirs. While I’m fascinated by young celebrities, I don’t usually feel that their life experiences warrant a decent memoir. So I’m hesitant to read Rivera’s or Sidibe’s. Wait until you’re old! Wait until you have more to talk about!

Sara Bareilles gets a pass because an explanation of songs is always fun. But more importantly, I expect more from her and Shonda Rhimes because they’re professional writers. The reason Fey, Poehler, Dunham and Kaling have all had successful books isn’t just because they’re funny females; it’s because they’re skilled at writing. A memoir is just a sidestep away from a TV or movie script.

I guess we’ll see how my predictions of more success with Rhimes and Bareilles’ memoirs hold up…

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Review: Then Again

Recap: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Diane Keaton is one of the most iconic actresses of the last 50 years. She set the bar high in Annie Hall and The Godfather and has continued to make great movies in her later years, including The First Wives Club and Something’s Gotta Give. So when I decided to read her memoir, I couldn’t wait to read about her experiences in those films. As a reader, I got glimpses into those moments — like the smallest bit of acknowledgment she received from Marlon Brando and her relationships with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino. But it wasn’t enough.

As the book went on, it became clear that writing this memoir must have been a cathartic experience for Keaton, who wrote a lot about the loss of her parents to cancer and Alzheimer’s and the adoption of her children at the age of 50. Don’t get me wrong; the way she writes about her family is beautiful and descriptive. (By the end I knew the names of all her siblings.) But it wasn’t what I expected or necessarily wanted to learn more about in the memoir.

Analysis: Keaton’s nonchalance about her acting and career comes off as modest, which is mostly cute and refreshing, if not slightly self-depracating. While I can understand her disbelief over making it to where she is, it’s still hard for me to believe at this point that she doesn’t think she’s a great actress. Maybe if she had included more about her acting experiences, I would better understand how she feels about them and how she sees herself.

That said, there is something to be said about the interesting format in which she chose to tell her story. She includes entries from her mother’s journal, letters written between her mother and herself, and letters she has begun to write to her own children. At times the format is confusing. It’s difficult to keep up with whose voice we’re reading from — hers or her mother’s. But as annoying as it is to hear so much from her mother’s point of view, it does help to further explore and explain Keaton’s upbringing and her relationship with her mother.

Get Then Again in paperback for $13.51.

Or get it on your Kindle for $11.99.

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Review: Unorthodox

Recap: As a young girl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the life of an Orthodox Hasidic Jew is the only one Deborah Feldman knows. She’s raised by her Bubby and Zeidy (Yiddish for Grandma and Grandpa) since mother left the Orthodox lifestyle — and was thereafter banished from it — and since her father was considered incapable of raising a child alone. As an Orthodox child, Debra dresses in long skirts, is mostly kept separate from boys and eats strictly kosher food. But she also spends time sneaking classic novels written by American authors into her bedroom and reading them, practicing English more than Hebrew and Yiddish, and dreaming of a life away from the Orthodox.

It’s all this, a molestation and the pride of telling a good lie that set her on a path away from Orthodox Judaism. As she gets older and prepares for marriage at the ripe, young age of 17, she finally learns about her body — all of its “holes” and all of its abilities. She comes to have sexual problems — both physically and emotionally — with her equally-as-young husband. Eventually they consummate their marriage and produce a son. I say “produce” because that’s very much what it feels like to Debra — a person that is produced, not one who is born out of love.

Her desire to leave remains. But the question is how. And if Debra does manage to get out unscathed, what will it mean for her son? (Orthodox children usually remain within the Orthodox sect, even if their mothers or fathers leave.) It seems an impossible feat, but for Debra, so does staying Orthodox.

AnalysisUnorthodox is eye-opening. It’s hard to believe these ancient beliefs remain and are carried out in this day and age and modern world. Learning about the world of Orthodox Judaism is fascinating, and with her descriptions, it’s darker and more limiting than one might think. The fact that she made it out unscathed and with her young son in tow is incredible.

But here’s the issue — the one glaring issue — with the book. As much as Feldman explains why she no longer wants to lead an Orthodox life is as little detailed as she gets about how she went about doing it. She makes it clear that a few friends helped, and what she did to get her first lump sum of cash. But where did she live when her family disowned her? How did she make enough money to land an apartment in New York City on her own? What kind of struggle did she endure when she finally got out? The story was amazing until the end, when so much was left out. Maybe it was too personal for her to write about, but for me, that struggle was what I most looked forward to, and I never quite got it.

Get Unorthodox in paperback for $12.02.

Or on your Kindle for $10.99.

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Anna Kendrick to Pen Book of Essays

Because Lena Dunham wasn’t enough, another twenty-something actress is setting out on becoming an essayist.

According to Page Six, this time it’s Anna Kendrick. The actress/singer is now adding author to her resume, with plans to write a book of autobiographical essays, due out in Fall 2016. Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster is publishing the book, which is said to include funny and embarrassing stories about the star.

The book does not yet have a title.

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Julie Andrews To Pen Second Memoir

With the 50th anniversary of the movie, The Sound of Music, comes not only an ABC Special with Diane Sawyer and Julie Andrews, but also a big book announcement from the musical actress.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Julie Andrews will be publishing her second memoir, to be released in 2017. The actress is best known for her roles in The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Victor/Victoria, but she says there’s more to her than those movies.

She released her first memoir, Home, in 2008 (which I own, but have yet to read, so stay tuned for my inevitable review!). Home focused on her early children and stage career. Her follow-up is set to cover her now world-famous career from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The new memoir doesn’t yet have a title, but is expected to be released in September of 2017.

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Review: I Remember Nothing

Recap: Contrary to what the title of this book may seem to imply, I Remember Nothing is not a story about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. On a much lighter note, I Remember Nothing is a nonfiction memoir, penned by the late, great journalist /writer /producer /director /screenwriter Nora Ephron. The book is a collection of essays about the past, present, and future, some personal, some more an outlet for Ephron to vent. Most are funny, some smart, empowering and thought-provoking, others sad, and a few are quite frankly odd.

In the chapter entitled “Journalism: A Love Story,” Ephron explains how she got her start writing as a journalist, from working in the mailroom at Newsweek to writing for the New York Post. The themes about sexism in the workplace and hard work paying off prevail here and feel inspirational. Other sections of the book discuss her divorce, friendship, and death. This is where we learn more about Ephron as a person and how she sees the world. Commentaries round out the rest of the book, including funny bits about email and short, odd, disposable chapters about things like Teflon.

Analysis: In all, reading about the life of one of the smartest, most successful, and iconically remembered creative female minds of our time was enjoyable. She is brilliant, and more importantly resilient. That comes across in her chapters on divorce and industry “flops” that she suffered. But if you read between the lines, Ephron not-so-subtly implies the state that she was in while writing the book. That is to say, Ephron had been diagnosed with leukemia a few years before penning I Remember Nothing. That information was not made public until after Ephron died in 2012. In retrospect, that knowledge better explains chapters like “What I Will Miss” and “What I Won’t Miss.” It’s lists like these that make it clear Ephron knew what road lay ahead. And what’s more, she faced it head-on.

In some sections — like the one about Teflon — I scratched my head in a state of “what the eff?” But other parts made me laugh out loud. And still others made me view the world in a different way. As a journalist, I felt that the journalism section of I Remember Nothing allowed me to connect with Ephron on a deeper level. I feel as thought I understand her quirks, and I respect her for them. But now, two after she’s passed away, I Remember Nothing helped me understand this great woman who I wish I had learned more about when she was still alive. We may not have Nora Ephron anymore, but we do have her words.

Get I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections in paperback for $11.71.

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Another Book from Mindy Kaling

kalingFor those of you who haven’t yet read Mindy Kaling’s memoir, you might want to pick up a copy. Why? Because she has another one on the way.

According to the L.A. Times, Mindy Kaling, star of The Office and The Mindy Project, is working on a second memoir. Entitled Why Not Me?, the book will be a collection of essays, with a variety of topics, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

“So much has happened between the time I published my first book and now,” Kaling tells [The Times’ Yvonne] Villarreal. “The show; my mother passed away; so many of my friends have gotten married. I’m a godmother now, and a homeowner. There’s so much that has happened in that period of time that I wanted to write another book.”

Considering her first book was a bestseller, I have no doubt this one will be successful as well.

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Neil Patrick Harris To Release “Adventure” Memoir

nph-3dHow often does a beautiful, sometimes talented, or sometimes famous-for-no-reason celebrity release a memoir? These days, pretty often. And while some are rather enjoyable to read, others fall flat when we realize these people aren’t that great, that interesting, or that talented when it comes to writing.

But Broadway and TV star Neil Patrick Harris is offering something different. NPH announced that he’s releasing an “adventure” memoir, entitled Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. It’s unclear exactly how it works, but this is how it’s explained on the book’s web site:

In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Whatever that means! The web site also says the book will include NPH’s recipes, childhood photos, and magic tricks. What more could we ask for? The book is set to be released October 14, 2014.

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