Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Everything is Wrong With Me

Read 4/20/10 - 4/21/10
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre/author

Memoir's can be a tricky animal.

First, you gotta have a life worth writing about.

I didn't know much about the author, Jason Mulgrew, although I did hear his blog is what put him on the map. Apparently he has a lot to share, and has no problems sharing it! And I suppose if you put enough of your life story out there, and you grow a large enough readership, you are destined to put pen to paper and publish a book with the smartest, wittiest, most embarrassing moments for EVERYONE to read.

Then, you gotta find your voice.

For most people, having a story to tell is easy... determining how the heck to tell it can be a stumbling block. In Jason's case, he found his voice over 5 years ago, when he began his online blog. Taking a very raw, sarcastic, depreciating tone throughout his collection -he shares stories not only from his own lifetime, but quite a few from his parents lives before he was born as well.

While most reviews I see praise his book and call it "hilarious", I admit to feeling a bit sorry for him. At times, I think Jason pokes a little too much fun at himself - coming across as sort of clownish, happily acknowledging his place as the comic relief / the brunt of most of the jokes within his circle of friends. It certainly didn't make me feel any better knowing he accepted things that way.

Finally, you have to get it all to tie in together.

Which, for the most part, Jason did. Perhaps I was expecting a more consistent flow - Starting with his parents lives, easing into his earlier years, and ending with his most recent life experiences. I can't fault Jason for jumping around, it was his story to tell, and he told it well. However, there were things I wished he had spent a little more time delving into, or circling back to. Like - the recurring quips about his questionable sexuality; his issues with his weight; and his obsession with having a teeny weeny. These were things that he mentions many times in passing, but never quite brings full circle - leaving me with a somewhat incomplete feeling.

Jason scratched many surfaces, but the ones I recall best are the ones he spent time detailing . A few of the stories that stood out most for me: The one about his "uncle" and the pepper - in which his "uncle" and friends trick him into eating one of the hottest peppers in the world; the memory of participating in the New Years Day Mummers Parade, complete with embarrassing photo; and his first grade classmate critiquing the way he holds his "bird" while relieving himself at the elementary school urinal (he's a "pincher", not a "cradler").

While it may appear that I am being overly critical, I do have to give him credit. Writing about family and close friends in this manner has got to be one of THE most difficult things to do. Laying the brutal truth out there for them in black and white, knowing that millions of people are moments away from reading about them. Checking the caller-ID every time the phone rings, expecting an irate or mortified friend or family member screaming "How could you write about that, man?!?!?"...

Perhaps I am missing a vital piece of the picture, having never read Mulgrew's blog?

I want to thank Harper Perennial for sending me this book for review. It was a very quick, entertaining read.

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