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Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom Hardcover – February 14, 2012
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“Sara Benincasa’s comedy is uplifting, deeply personal, and very funny. As difficult as her agoraphobia is to manage, she’s pulled through it—beautifully. Agorafabulous! manages to make you laugh even as she’s peeing into cereal bowls and hiding them under her bed.” (Rob Delaney)
“Agorafabulous! is laugh-out loud funny, even as it’s taking on deadly serious issues.” (Feministing.com)
“Funny and unflinchingly honest…. Benincasa discovers her gift for comedy and storytelling, and finds tranquility.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A blisteringly funny yet affecting debut memoir about a young woman’s struggle to overcome panic disorder and agoraphobia. Comedian Benincasa recounts her adolescent devolution into a ‘full-on, obsessive, cowering, trembling agoraphobe’ [who] discover[s], by accident, the healing power of stand-up comedy. Fabulously quirky and outrageous.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Hilarious. . . . With expert pacing, the stand-up comic mixes humor and poignant anecdotes from her teen, college, and young adult life. As her empowering tale makes clear, she survives and thrives (with a little help from family, friends, and Prozac).” (Booklist)
“Sara’s story of overcoming a debilitating fear is told with such honesty and hilarity that all I want to do now is hang out with her in a tiny room and not let her leave until she tells me more stories.” (Sarah Colonna, author of Life as I Blow It)
“If I ever get thrown in a mental institution, my only hope would be having Sara as a cellmate. Her funny and poignant perspective makes Agorafabulous! a stellar debut.” (Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof)
“Sara’s comedy is uplifting, deeply personal, and very funny. As difficult as her agoraphobia is to manage, she’s pulled through it beautifully. Agorafabulous! manages to make you laugh even as she’s peeing into cereal bowls and hiding them under her bed.” (Rob Delaney, comedian and columnist, Vice magazine)
“With storytelling that is hilarious, honest, raw, and absurd, Agorafabulous! puts you in the body and mind of an extraordinary individual who accepts and embraces her full self.” (Baratunde Thurston, author of How to Be Black)
“Sara’s blunt and quirkily humorous take on the crippling anxiety that held her hostage in her own home will have you laughing out loud one minute and wanting to hug her the next.” (Kambri Crews, author of Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir)
“The abridged list of things Sara Benincasa has been afraid of includes leaving her home, having a wet head, driving…and sex. But her memoir…dissects all of these fears with so much verve and humor, you’ll be amazed at how much fun it can be to read about such difficult circumstances.” (Bust Magazine)
“Benincasa informs and entertains while relaying this story about mental illness. Without glossing over the seriousness of her ordeal, she mines it for laughter, which, someone once said, is the best medicine.” (Penthouse)
“Often poignant and always funny…. [Sara Benincasa’s] matter–of–fact, unselfconscious delivery allows readers to be entertained without having to feel guilty about it; further, it may just inspire them to make a few changes of their own. [A] story of triumph over adversity…you’ll be better for having read it.” (Examiner.com)
From the Back Cover
“I subscribe to the notion that if you can laugh at the shittiest moments in your life,you can transcend them. And if other people can laugh at your awful shit as well, then I guess you can officially call yourself a comedian.”
In Boston, a college student fears leaving her own room—even to use the toilet. In Pennsylvania, a meek personal assistant finally confronts a perpetually enraged gay spiritual guru. In Texas, a rookie high school teacher deals with her male student’s unusually, er, hard personal problem. Sara Benincasa has been that terrified student, that embattled employee, that confused teacher—and so much more. Her hilarious memoir chronicles her attempts to forge a wonderfully weird adulthood in the midst of her lifelong struggle with agoraphobia, depression, and unruly hair.
Relatable, unpretentious, and unsentimental, Agorafabulous! celebrates eccentricity, resilience, and the power of humor to light up even the darkest corners of our lives. (There are also some sexy parts, but they’re really awkward. Like really, really awkward.)
Top customer reviews
The strength and weakness of the book is that the story is told completely from Sara's point of view. So, we get a long section on how smoothies helped her regain her taste for eating and the weird people she meets while attempting to rebuild her life. Therefore we don't get any insights in how common it is to develop an eating disorder as well as agorahobia or details about the treatment of the illness.
This memoir ain't your grandma's inspiration. It skips merrily along while acknowledging, in prose that truly NOTICES Sicily and New York and the culinary oddities of the suburban northeast and the knickknacks in people's rooms, that human bodies and minds are fragile machines that creak along in the short term but can demonstrate great resilience over the long haul by drawing on whatever combinations of luck and courage are available.
The voice of New Jersey's best comic writer, the early Philip Roth that the author cites as an inspiration, is in evidence here, but without the joyless-sex-fueled nihilism that came to characterize the Roth/Updike/Mailer generation. As David Foster Wallace points out in Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, we middle-class Gen-Xers and Millennials who read are done with all that Great Male Narcissist stuff. Agorafabulous! says, Let's smile at our dysfunctions and bad one-night stands, grab the world by the balls, and see if we can't make other people's lives a little bit more livable by laughing hard and working harder.
Hence the book foregoes both self-indulgent anger and wordplay for its own sake in favor of relatable techniques like a table of phobias, smoothie recipes, and zany anachronisms. Acrobatic obscenities meet "the reincarnated souls of Spanish inquisitors, Nazi commandants, and medieval Chinese proto-waterboarders," for example, all in the service of satirizing high-school cliquishness.
While the abrupt ending left me wanting more, further reflection indicates that Benincasa's comparison of herself to a taxi driver in denial about his panic attacks asks readers to consider how, in a political climate obsessed with cutting public services, we can extend the necessary support networks to those not lucky enough to have the kinds of families that provide them.
This memoir earns its optimism (and its title's exclamation point, even!) because each chapter's scrupulous attention to detail, whether the urine and blood of the book's lows or the euphoric creativity of its highs, never lets us forget the precariousness of being a person. The humor in Agorafabulous! comes from the kind of cynicism that cannibalizes itself into admitting that Hey, sometimes with a wacky religious mantra and a stuffed animal in tow, you make it through. A marvelous, punchy read!