109 of 112 people found the following review helpful
I've read a lot of "hollywood bios" and can be pretty cynical about them. And, as the author mentioned, yet another book about a person who becomes famous, drinks and uses too much, needs rehab isn't exactly unique.
But this biography is different. First, it is well presented, with a genuine sense of the personality of the author. Her personal history is moving and any kid who was ever a little different (I liked books too much and was also too tall) may have to endure a lot. So I empathized with her story. But even if I had had the best childhood on earth, I would have still been moved by the genuine voice she presents.
And then comes her experience in London when her guts burst (and this isn't a spoiler -- it's on the cover) and she has to spend a l o n g time in the hospital. She has so much time for real pain, genuine reflection on her life, and that rarest of all events in any life: the realization of the changes she needs to make (although I think most of that comes just after leaving the hospital).
It is so hard to change behavior and to face oneself honestly. This author has my total admiration. I used to work with a woman who had a brain injury and dealt with it by reciting to herself the very true mantra "everyone has SOME deficit," which is very true. And this author has made me twist that to "everyone has SOME addiction." So anyone with any personal honesty will read this book and come away with some serious thinking to do about the need for change.
Having said all that, somehow this is also a very funny book in places. This is a truly talented performer and author.
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2014
Last night I started reading "Guts", and was laughing and crying so hard that I passed out. This morning I woke up and finished it. Let me be clear. Up until today, I was my own favorite writer. Now my favorite writer is Kristen Johnston. Wait ~ she’s not just a writer ~ she’s a force of nature. She’s a revolutionary. This isn’t just a book; it’s a call to action. She’s throwing down the gauntlet. Tell your truth. Silence equals death. She describes her “tsunami of tsorrow,” and she writes her own “faux-bituary.” Her honesty is like a demolition derby that crumbles the mountain of secrets we’ve all been standing on our entire lives. She is so excruciatingly personal that even though the specifics of our journeys are different, I feel like she’s my sister now. She is so painfully funny that I hyperventilated while reading her stories. She quotes Kristepedia and makes you wish that website really existed. And she does something no author has ever done before ~ she invents the perfect onomatopoeic word for the sound of someone sliding a shower curtain across a metal rod. The description of what happened to her that fateful night in London is one of the most horrific things I’ve ever read, and I’ve lived through stage 4 breast cancer. I had started writing a book about my journey with cancer, and I stopped because it felt too painful to relive all that. After reading "Guts", the floodgates have re-opened, and I feel catapulted back into the creative flow. In Asian culture, we are expected to pretend everything’s perfect. It’s considered shameful to air your dirty laundry in public, or admit that you have any problems. Kristen’s honesty and humor give us all permission to tell the truth and laugh about it. She magically brings humanity closer together, reminding us that if we all just let our Freak flags fly, we’d all feel better. Buy this book, and read it immediately. Whatever excuse just occurred to you, shut up. You’re going to love it. I promise. But even better, you just might end up loving yourself.
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2012
Hold on tight. This book is a rollercoaster ride in words. I usually end up being disappointed when I read a celebrity auto-bio. Most are puff pieces written to stroke the authors own ego. Some are vendettas against all who have ever wronged them. Others are seem to be a very long wikipedia page, stating "just the facts ma'am". This book is like no other I've read. This is a searing look inside someone who has been to the precipice, and somehow survived, then thrived. It's funny as hell in parts and gut wrenching (sorry) in others.
There's nothing unique about a celebrity being an addict and being out of control. And folks, this lady was hanging on by a thread. What IS unique here, is that we get to see the process through which she finally decides that as painful as it will be, she must take stock of her own life. It's painful to read in parts. And I suspect anyone, addict or not, will recognize the truth written on these pages. It's a cautionary tale for all those younguns in Hollywood (or anywhere) who are facing the same temptations and demons as the author.
In the end, Kristen Johnston survives and has become the person she was meant to be. And she's a pistol! I hope she continues to write, as her narrative voice is unique and needed.
This is not one of those books you wait to buy from the remainder table at the mall. It's worth the price of admission and then some. You will definitely be entertained, likely moved, and hopefully inspired.
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2012
First, I have to say that while there are many differences in my life compared to the author's, there are a lot of commonalities too.
It's amazing to realize that while we have these insecurities about ourselves, others see us in a totally different light.
Lastly, we need to remember the power of our words. They can be so powerful in positive and negative ways. Unfortunately, negative words really stick with us. Like the author, I can remember negative things that people said to me when I was growing up, but have a hard time remembering the good words too.
Now. The memoir. I love it. Poignant, yet funny. It was absolutely addicting to read. Yes, I do have addiction issues too...and I'm addicted to knitting. After reading the book, you will understand this.
Seriously, though. I read about this book in Entertainment Weekly and as a sober alcoholic, I like to know that there are others out there just like me. It was a powerful book and it was as if the author was telling me her story face-to-face.
I'm glad that I pre-ordered this book and it showed up on my Kindle this morning. .
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2012
I don't typically read autobiographies, and never the "celebrity" ones. However, I saw Kristen on "Anderson" and was captured by her reading of some of the passages in the book. So, I took a chance and bought it for my Kindle. (Hey, I was interested, but did I really want it in hardcover FOREVER? So, I bought the e-version)
I bought it yesterday and finished it this morning. (My addiction..speed reading. Everyone has at least one.)
It was entertaining, and enlightening. I would say there was definitely no "ghost writer" on this one, as her personality and sense of the absurd comes through very clearly. She is harsh with herself and yet honest about everything she put herself and others through with her addictions.
There are so many "life lessons" in this book, but I think the most important one is to make sure you love yourself, and worry less about getting approval from others.
In the beginning, she states everyone has (or has had) an "addiction". I thought it was an absurd statement, until I read the list and looked at all the musical instruments I have (43, at last count). It's just some "addictions" are more benign (I save for them), than others. It was eye opening. We all have something we "obsess" over just a wee bit. Some have more than others. Some are not benign.
I'd highly recommend it. It'll probably never be considered "literature", and there are no "celebrity secrets" (other than her own), but it made me think and feel, and reflect on how our treatment of others can be insignificant to us and yet so harmful to them. It's always a good book that makes you think AND feel, reflection is just a bonus.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2012
Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster
Author: Kristen Johnston
Look at the three images above and realize they are all so very different yet the same. The person on the outside might be smiling but at times she is torn apart, confused, hazy from the drugs, alcohol and many addictions that she faced and had to overcome. She might appear put together yet what you see is an illusion. Thinking about her life she realizes that many times she spent taking pills, drinking to the point of practically being in a coma and often so out of it that she became a couch potato who spent much of her time hiding her addictions from the outside world.
Guts written Kristen Johnston fills an open, honest and courageous memoir with truths, colorful language and no holds barred accounts of her screw-ups, triumphs, defeats and sorrows. Admitting her mistakes, her unfortunate ways of handling her boredom and depression, the author brings the reader first hand inside her world, how it affected her body, her appearance and even her memory at times. Imagine calling someone for help and not remembering who when you woke up the next morning. Adding on that after a certain age slurring your words is not cute and men that pretend to like and find this attractive either as she states, on parole, hate women or think women are evil. But, even worse if you get up in the morning soil yourself and don't remember what happened welcome as she says to the "Land of the Truly Tragic." Imagine living in Mayberry as she uses an example with Charlie Sheen as Mayor.
As the author continues to explain her downfalls we learn about her horrific experiences on Catholic school, called an A Freak because she was so tall and her rise to fame and much more. Honest, bold, frank and definitely told in her own style and voice Kristen Johnston gets down and tells it all. From describing herself as double chinned, grape teeth, fat face and lethargic you can feel the frustration and anger within her. Added to that she witnesses some really awful kids beating up her older brother and the anger and rage in her finally exploded and what she does costs her even more than just getting even with the kids. She continues to reveal how she feels she was the master of her own torment and the fact that she bullied herself into doing many things that would eventually lead to her downfall. Told in the first person narrative you hear the author's voice coming through loud and clear. Humorous, sad, funny, heart wrenching and straightforward the author allows the reader inside her world up close and very personal. The one thing she does state is that she was fortunate that the press never realized her addiction as she shares more of her life with the reader. But, she goes even further describing the cruelty of one young girl named Amy who thought as she stated that she was the Queen but years later when Kristen and her sister bumped into her the sight she beholds was anything but the girl from grade school. What endears you to the author is the fact that rather than writing a rude and nasty note she does not even though she could have gotten back at her for all the mean things she did to her just seeing Amy and looking at her was enough.
Kristen spent most of her time in her own world of make believe and fantasy and then realized she had a special talent. She was and still is totally funny. Using her intelligence and humor she entertained so many and made them laugh. Becoming a party animal/drama nerd she loved tipsy audiences at her performances and was hoping that the boys would like her but never did. She was the one they would call for advice about the girls they liked. I can totally identify with that. Being tall and having the wrong look can make you feel like an outcast even if you are not.
Imagine being all alone in your hotel room and doubled over in dire pain and unable to communicate. When you finally get your phone and you think some help the EMT's in England mistreat you, think you are something from another planet and the rudeness reeks like the smell that she emitted after being so sick. Kristen Johnston relates her experiences in the hospital that would make anyone think twice before going to a hospital in London or anywhere else. The rudeness of the staff, the callousness of the technicians and the harsh realization that she was quite ill and had a peptic ulcer that could cause her to die if not immediately treated. Fortunately, the doctor who read the x-ray had some compassion as she was wheeled into surgery but not before contacting one true friend in America. Frightening to say the least but she is strong, won't give up and yet when confronted with questions she lied about many things that she has done and never admitted her addictions. Even when in ICU she put on a brave front and would not even allow her own mother to return to London. She seemed to feel that she needed to do things on her own. She never admitted that she needed anyone to help her in her life for some reason it seems she felt she did not deserve it. How wrong can you be?
With the help of her stage manager she was put in a private room but the reaction of the staff was stark and cold. The fact that she rang for help did not send them to her room and their reaction scary to say the least. Explaining throughout the ordeal one prevalent factor that the more successful she became the unhappier she became. No one noticed. Lonely, depressed and definitely feeling scared she reflects her entire experience and the reactions of the doctors who seemed stymied at first.
Friends from her show came to visit but her moods did not change. Removing the neck tube was great but not eating and wanting food her complaints went on deaf ears. Returning to her show proved difficult in many ways as her physical condition was far from stellar. Her next stop: The Hospital. A serious infection and the staff this time was much better as the gravity of the situation outweighed the rest. Even more admirable was the fact that she was not fired and the show would hold her place. Hospital ward her next stop. Moved back to her private room she finally realizes what she refers to as her Dark Night. Finally after weeks in the hospital freedom but she needed to take something along with her. What she learned about herself and the end result of her hospital visit you need to read for yourself. A note from a real friend would change everything. When you are confronted with a harsh truth and reality you sometimes snap out and move ahead. The ending chapters you need to read for yourself to understand just how far she has come and where she still needs to go. Guts: She sure has them but more importantly she shares her ups, downs, failures and successes to let the world know just why Drug and Alcohol addiction cannot be ignore: I quote: "Silence is Death," and she will not remain silent any longer.
I saw this book on Simon and Schuster's website and I asked to read and review it hoping that more people would read her book, get to know her for the amazing person she really is and understand that we all need to have GUTS!
Thank you Kristen for sharing your story and thank you Simon and Schuster for sending me this straightforward and honest account of the real Kristen Johnston: You Kristen Are Never Really Alone anymore!
The smile on those pictures may just be your outer appearance who you are inside is the real YOU!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2012
... to add to that- brave. GUTS is an incredible memoir. Kristen's story is, well, gut-wrenching. she shares her experience with addiction and probably the most vulnerable time in her life with openness, honesty, authenticity and humor! this isn't your run of the mill "poor me, I'm so famous that I HAD to take pills washed down with booze" kind of story. Kristen takes responsibility and shows us that there is no shame in addiction.
everyone should read this- it absolutely has the power to inspire and to save lives, or for those who aren't struggling, provide insight and an honest look at what it's like to live with addiction.
Kristen's humor shines through and makes an extremely intense subject real and relatable. She doesn't take herself or her "celebrity" too seriously and doesn't preach or patronize.
Truly an amazing journey from an amazing, beautiful human being.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
Kristin's story is quite a tale of someone that spent their life running from themself only to be confronted with their reality in a brutal way. Interesting book written from the soul but as if you are talking to a good friend and she is telling you this story over coffee. Kristin is a talanted and extremely funny actress and now author and all I can say is its great to have her back.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2012
I see the author has a habit of commenting on negative reviews. I would have read the book earlier, but because of her habit of demanding people who didn't like her book share their own book, as if that were relevant or professional, I was pretty turned off. I doubt the author would have withheld her opinions on the books she read prior to penning this story. She also didn't demand writing credentials from people who loved her book. Curious.
Anyhow, I liked Guts. The moment when she decided to seek sobriety was blink-and-you'll-miss-it, which was surprising, but her stories of feeling like a misfit, a freak, were touching, as was the stories of her loneliness while severely ill in Britain. She couldn't admit to her friends and family that she needed them, she isolated herself. She also seemed to receive some pretty brutal care, which I think is often mitigated when a patient has someone to advocate for them.
My biggest complaint is I would have wanted more book, which is not a bad complaint at all. Oh, and that she was a little mean girl in how she reacted to an even meaner girl she went to school with upon finding out that life had not treated her well. Perhaps it was that she was sweet to her face, and saved her real feelings for a wider audience. Ouch. (And still quite human.)
Perhaps the most touching moment was a instance where while in hospital -- when in London, do as the Londoners do, and skip the the before hospital -- and allowed herself to be nurtured.
The author writes with great honesty, and I'd looked forward to seeing her take on her sobriety with the same candor and self-examination -- oh, and humor -- and so the book seemed to end too abruptly.
Kristen Johnston comes across as an intelligent and funny woman with a chip on her shoulder. That's okay. It means that she passes my autobiography test of if I'd like to, after reading the book, have lunch with her. I would. Not sure the feeling would be mutual.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
As I sit here thinking about what I've read, I realize that I've just finished the best book I've ever read in my life. Its certainly not the average "actress-becomes-addict-and-goes-to-rehab" book that most celebrities write. Its so much more than that, and I didn't doubt it for a second, even before I read it. I now admire Kristen in a whole new way, than I did before. It took a lot of courage for her share her story with the world, but I believe she made a great choice by doing so.
You gave me a different perspective on life and self-acceptance. Chapter 2 was the hardest for me to read, but also the one that taught me the most. It changed my way of thinking, towards other people and myself. Guts is going to make a difference in many, many people's lives-- I'm sure of it.
No matter who you are, everyone can relate to Guts. To say its worth the read and the money is an understatement. You won't regret buying it!