Thursday, March 7, 2013

#11 (2013/CBR5) "Bossypants" by Tina Fey

I've always liked Tina Fey, but besides seeing her on Saturday Night Live, I knew very little about her. Biographies are also a favorite of mine because it's fascinating to learn from other people's experiences without having to go through the trouble and heartbreak of actually experiencing those things for myself (e.g., drug abuse, mental illness, etc.). But I avoided Bossypants (2011) by Tina Fey for a surprisingly long time. I guess I generally don't read much about people involved in movies and television: being famous doesn't immediately make one's life a good book. However, I eventually heard so much good about this one, my interest was piqued. I browsed through it at a bookstore and was impressed. Then my only challenge was deciding whether to read it myself in order to see all the pictures or have Tina Fey read it to me on the audio version.

Bossypants was not quite what I expected from a biography. I'm used to detailed accounts of every moment of the subject's life, showing in painstaking detail what made them who they are (e.g., Jane Goodall, Katherine Graham) or incredible baring-of-the-soul writing where the author opens up their deepest, innermost thoughts and feelings (Cheryl Strayed in Wild). Tina Fey does neither of these. I know almost as little about her life as before I started her book. And although she shares some of her feelings about the pressures going along with parenting, I definitely don't feel like the book let me get to know her. For example, there is very little about meeting and falling in love with her husband or having her child--things that I would imagine were major events in her life.

But that's all okay, because it was interesting and it made me laugh. Instead of hearing about meeting her husband, we learn about how she "almost died" on her honeymoon cruise. There is some fascinating discussion of what SNL was like, how she came to play Palin, and the lot of women comedians. Even here Fey remains circumspect, declining to dish dirt on the [probably] many "douchebag" hosts that have been on SNL.

I also enjoyed Fey's advice for women dealing with difficult men in a male-dominated career. She is a living example of success in this area.

"So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: 'Is this person in between me and what I want to do?' If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then when you're in charge, don't hire the people who were jerky to you."

I had heard that Tina Fey was somewhat nerdy growing up, doing well in school and waiting on the sex. I thought I might read this book and discover that we had a lot in common. Fey throws in enough self-deprecating stories to make herself relateable, but we're not long lost bosom buddies. Even just reading about her life made me tired. Fey is smart, driven, and brave. After reading this book, I watched the Golden Globe intro with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They were hilarious.

Oh, I almost forgot one of my favorite bits of advice: "Lesson learned? When people say, 'You really, really must' do something, it means you don't really have to. No one ever says, 'You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.' When it's true, it doesn't need to be said."

1 comment:

Marlene Detierro said...

Sounds like going the audio route with this one was definitely a wise choice, especially with Fey narrating. I may have to try the audio version myself.

Marlene Detierro (Alaska Skagway)