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58 Reviews
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 (22)
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3 star:
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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
This book was worth the wait. The writing is so good. It's more of a conversation than a book.

The approach Merrill takes to difficult subjects is extremely clever. Whether she is talking about her mom or her adventures in relationships, she handles it with wit and grace.

When I was done reading the book, I wanted to be able to give her a big hug...
Published on November 21, 2011 by jbrown3079

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly uplifting
The author is a decent writer, but this is a tale of self-pity and woe. Being too young to know who she actually was, naturally I googled her to figure out who her mystery famous boyfriend was. I doubt I'd have picked this up on my own but it was a selection for my book club and while it did give us something to chat about, no one felt the urge to pass their copy along to...
Published 22 months ago by Amanda Kimble


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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, November 21, 2011
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
This book was worth the wait. The writing is so good. It's more of a conversation than a book.

The approach Merrill takes to difficult subjects is extremely clever. Whether she is talking about her mom or her adventures in relationships, she handles it with wit and grace.

When I was done reading the book, I wanted to be able to give her a big hug of thanks. But since I couldn't do that, I wrote this instead.

This is a must buy.
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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Markoe PLUS, November 15, 2011
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
I've always been a huge fan of Merrill Markoe's novels. I bought this book of essays as soon as it came out. Not only is it hilarious (trying to model herself on Jack Kerouac as a desperate-to-be-liked teenager is full of laughs) but incredibly brave and revealing. Markoe writes with honesty, wit and wisdom on a wide range of topics: her impossible-to-please mother, a perfect explanation of the narcissistic personality, or a river rafting trip for women to bond over. Oh, and dogs! Lots and lots of dogs. This book is a treasure.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Her mom was a Claude Rains character, December 6, 2011
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VD (vdbooks) "VD" (Somewhere in New England) - See all my reviews
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This was a fun read, especially the parts about Merrill's peculiar yet fascinating mother. She came across as a character we've seen Claude Rains play (and that's why we love Claude Rains). Her 'first time', arty teen, rafting, and 'how to spot an a-word' essays were also fun. I got bogged down with all the dog stuff, but a dog owner may slurp that stuff up like spilled gravy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, December 9, 2011
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
Thank you Merrill for writing a book as a true comedian who knows what it means to be a comedian that isn't afraid to be self-reflective and serious at times. This book is poignant, heart breaking and entertaining at the same time. But not in the weird "checked out entertaining" way. I highlighted phrases in this book more times than I can count. Thanks for keeping it real [even alarming] and not being afraid to be you but being downright honest and hilarious at the same time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the Bible, March 19, 2012
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
This is the best, funniest and most hair-raising book ever written by anyone named Merrill Markoe, and I've read every book written by every Merrill Markoe. A MUST READ for anyone who's ever known a Narcissist, has never known a Narcissist, or who would like to meet a Narcissist!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Human Condition is Inherently Humorous, January 28, 2012
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Claudia Miles "Claudia Miles" (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
I've heard it said that comedians would be cease being funny if they gained too much insight into their neuroses but Merrill Markoe proves that the opposite is true. Delving into the abyss can lead to some pretty humorous findings.

Markoe gets personal in Cool, Calm & Contentious, writing about herself, yet doing so makes the book that much more relatable. She shares the impact of being parented by a mother who's less than maternal, shall we say, and how that affected her self-esteem and choices in men. The flip side is that her uobringing also helped form and shape her considerable comedic skills, which have improved with age, while being ruled by self-doubt becomes more a thing of the past. Markoe's lighthearted, breezy style might make it seem like she came by self-knowledge easily, but there's no doubt it was hard won. I imagine some years of therapy (and more years of angst) as she suggests preceded that understanding. But this isn't math and Markoe need not show her work.

I like the description of the Fetish Ball as we've all been in situations where we feel out of place. I think we all do have felt the same sadness in hearing about people who attach harm or humiliation to intimacy and The story is funny because it's so unique and yet so human. The chapter on How to Spot an A****** should be required reading as young people go forth and "date." These seemingly small clues actually point out huge warning signs- and in a funny way. I encourage all my single-and-dating clients to read it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and funny - may save money on therapist, December 19, 2011
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So true and yet so hilarious - I could not stop reading it once I started. I saw Merrill being interviewed by Jon Stewart and decided to get the sample for my kindle. Thought it would only be about her mother's travel diaries - bought it anyway because it was so funny. It turns out that it is about many people (and dogs) throughout her life. Her explanation of recognizing (and learning how to cope with) people with narcissistic disorders may save you thousands in therapy sessions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maximum Markoe, September 6, 2012
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Markoe offers an excellent and often hilarious book of essays. If you're a fan of the form and enjoy writers like David Sedaris, you'll love this little gem. For dog-lovers, it's a must-read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this memoir, August 30, 2012
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
I have been a fan of Merrill Markoe since high school, over 15 years ago. I love this book. It ties with What the Dogs Have Taught Me as my favorite. When I bought this book, I figured it was another of her collections of humorous essays. I was supremely pleased to discover that it is an intimate memoir. Her insights are often sad, true, but life is sad. This book actually helped me process some of my own sad realities. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself, Merrill. This book ended with me wishing for more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Don't Read This Book in Public!, March 19, 2012
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This review is from: Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays (Hardcover)
I started reading Merrill Markoe's Cool, Calm & Contentious in a very quiet Doctor's waiting room and could not help but explode in uncontrollable laughter! This book is hilarious throughout, and the warm personality of the author shines through. From her take on her mom to her beloved dogs, it's like having an hysterically funny conversation with a good friend.
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Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays
Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays by Merrill Markoe (Hardcover - November 1, 2011)
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