on March 6, 2014
Someone is telling the truth about what it means to be a 50 year old woman in our increasingly youth obsessed culture. And not just any someone, but someone really funny and courageous. Annabelle Gurwitch's keen eye for detail (and humiliation) made me laugh out loud many times. It also did what my favorite books do which is help me feel a little less alone. Anyone within a stone's throw of middle age will want this on their bedside table, like a great friend whispering, "Yes, you may, in fact, be considered old now in most places other than your mother's Alzheimer's support group, but it's okay, you can still laugh."
Annabelle Gurwitch's "I See You Made an Effort" is written in a similar vein to Nora Ephron's, "I Feel Bad About My Neck," about the indignities society inflicts on aging women. Gurwitch's book is truer (and funnier) because she's not shielded by wealth and a privileged background the way Ephron was. For some strange reason, younger women tend to delude themselves into thinking that their personal attractiveness or actual talents and abilities will somehow shield them from the harsh way aging women are consistently marginalized and ignored (or ridiculed). So imagine their surprise when they start getting the old lady treatment. Getting older isn't all that bad, what's bad is being treated like an old person. That definitely hurts. Gurwitch puts a nice humorous spin on it; l particularly liked her chapter about her stay at the Beverley Hills Hotel. And her family history is fascinating and would make a great memoir. I took the book with a grain of salt since I am well past fifty. Fifty is better than sixty. Fifty is better than fifty-one. All you can do as you get older is count your blessings, scant as they seem sometimes. Altogether, an enjoyable book.
on March 1, 2015
It was funny, at times laugh-out-loud, but there's an undertone of depression in it that can only emanate from a young person who believes that getting old is a complete drag. Maybe it's because of Gurwitch's unfortunate choice of careers, wherein youth is the only currency. Maybe she has been brainwashed to accept the b.s. viewpoint of the media and our stupid culture, which rewards fecundity - or the appearance thereof - to the exclusion of everything else, over brains, wit, humor, style, experience, or knowing how to size up a con in 10 seconds instead of marrying him. I guess at 60 it's not that interesting to me anymore to hear young people opine on what it's going to be like to get old. For example, this dud: "I am not becoming anything anymore. That's the kind of thudding honesty that occurs at fifty." Come on, Annabelle, pull up those pink ruffly granny pants and stop whining. I became an author at 58, WAY after I was dead, ya big crybaby.
There are a number of just-turned-30,or 40,or 50 humor books out there, and almost all of them have their engaging aspects. They do display a considerable range of styles, from the purely jokey to the angsty and way too self-involved. This book is a nice antidote to those two extremes because it is at times both funny and insightful in a rueful and self-deprecating way. By that I mean Ms. Gurwitch knows her way around a one-liner and around an extended goof of a story, (see "AuDum at the Apple Genius Bar"), but she also has a handle on wry commentary on the state of the recently 50. The emphasis is on wry commentary - there's no over the top hysteria, no relentless kvetching, no excess. We all get older, and some of the stuff associated with that is funny, or at least can be given a good-humored spin. That's what's going on here, and it is all done with honesty, a keen eye for the absurd, and a grown up appreciation of people and their foibles and preoccupations. So, if you'd like a gentle, humorous reminder that you aren't alone as you hit 50, this could be a very nice choice.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
on May 21, 2014
Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art... ~ Carson Kanin
"I See You Made An Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50" by author/actress Annabelle Gurwitch, is a laugh out loud inspiring new funny book that addresses the finer aspects of aging as gracefully as possible.. or, sometimes not so much. Some of the chapter titles are especially telling: "I'm Meditating as Fast as I Can", "Marauding Through The Middle Ages", "I See You Made an Effort", "Monster Ball", "Area 51".
Ms. Gurwitch moved to Los Angeles, CA. in 1989, receiving numerous TV and film offers. While working on Woody Allen's "Writers Block" (2003), the production was a flop and she was fired. Devastated, her career went in an unexpected direction, involving more theater, documentary production, she wrote a lot more, including a book, was an NPR commentator, activist, and made guest appearances on TV talk shows. In the chapter "Hollywood Adjacent": Gurwitch still loves acting/preforming, but is realistic about where the direction of her career is not going. She hasn't ever been a famous Hollywood star, and "Hollywood is a machine to build the careers of very young people." according to Gurwitch.
When Gurwitch visited a high end beauty boutique, she was startled at pricey crèmes, lotions, potions etc. that eased the effects of aging/dryness. Even the glare of lip gloss could be blinding. In a discussion with her husband (television writer Jeff Kahn) he admitted he hoped in marriage there would be "more sex", where she had hoped in marriage there would be "more money". It seemed unfortunate that her "come hither" look likely meant she'd misplaced her reading glasses.
There was a time when Gurwitch fully believed Debbie Harry's (1979) "Die young. Stay pretty". The truth is that 50 is not the new 40, and 40 isn't the new 30 either. Age is what a person feels inside. Gurwitch is still happy for the little things in life- a warm shower for instance, and also for the fact that her hair hasn't caught on fire. I'll cherish this book always.
on September 11, 2014
I loved the idea of this book. The author is funny and spot-on with some of her observations. I was a bit disappointed because I thought it was going to be a "story" -- a beginning, middle and end -- not so much written from a first person observations standpoint. The last few pages of the book are SO true!
on August 11, 2014
After reading an article on Annabelle Gurwitch in the NY Times Book Review of this book, I immediately downloaded it and didn't stop reading until I was finished. She is hilarious with a razor sharp wit, chronicling the conversations she has with her somewhat sex-crazed husband, her Apple Bar "Genius date", her mothering foibles, etc. She can even make a trip to the drycleaners funny. Definitely recommend.
on September 22, 2015
The title alone, "I see you made an effort", will strike cords with all friends who have a bit of age and experience. The reason there was curiosity in reading this book was actually due to the very bad reviews. Sometimes the bad reviews give more insight than the very good reviews.
There is no way to sugar-coat the death of a friend and Annabelle was true with her feelings, thoughts, love for another, so if someone found it beyond poor taste to find a way to laugh at the absurdities of cancer perhaps they should write their own book.
Reading this book brought giggles, snorts, guffaws, and just plain enjoyment to my life.
on May 29, 2014
--"Ladies, may I show you to a table?" the maitre d' asks us.
--"Ladies," I whisper to my friend Carla. "Well, at least he didn't 'ma'am' us."
I've lost track of how many times I've been ma'amed, but it still stings every time.
Lately, my husband has been complaining about the increasing amount of space in the medicine cabinet that is taken up by moisturizers. "You must have one for each part of your face," he whines. He is just WRONG! I have TWO for each part of my face. THREE for that sensitive eye area.
I'm over fifty. What does he expect?
Annabelle Gurwitch gets it and expresses it more eloquently and humorously that I can. She dishes on everything to do with aging, from reading glasses to the almost unbearable sadness of watching your beloved teenager drifting away AFTER fixing you with an eye-roll and a look of disdain.
At least our own kids still SEE us. To everyone else, a middle-aged woman is invisible.
--"Age has spun me into an alternate universe, one that exists in exactly the same space-time, but is unseen by those who are younger."
I may bemoan my dull skin tone and sagging fleshy bits, but at least my exposure to the public is limited. Gurwitch is an actress. She has to be OUT THERE with the younger set, scrounging for work. And, seriously, how many parts are there for actresses "of a certain age"?
--"...an actress can hope for age-appropriate roles spanning from girls (with variations on a scale of sluttiness) to mother, MILF, professional, cougar, and then, death."
Even though The Sopranos is over, ugly, old, paunchy men still work all the time. Where are the roles for women with those particular qualifications?
For an actress, the choice, when it comes to cosmetic intervention, seems to be not IF, but WHEN:
--"I've had things injected in my face that I wouldn't clean my house with."
I laughed my head off at this book, not out of schadenfreude, but commiseration. Oh, yeah! Been there, done that. And thank gawd I don't need Depends...yet.
Will you enjoy this book if you're NOT yet fifty or even approaching that golden age? I have no clue.
But just remember...one day, this WILL be you. So be kind to us ma'ams. Look our way. Notice us, you whippersnappers with your massive college debt and NO job prospects.
Be kind to us and we MAY just hire you to find our car keys for us.
on December 27, 2014
Having recently read several books in this range of subjects I can only say I liked it. Amusing and occasionally deep it is not hugely well written but entertaining. I laughed out loud several times. If you are in a certain place in your life, a turning point kids have gone off to college or some large life change has happened it could well help you through that.