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Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays Paperback – August 7, 2012
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Advance praise for Cool, Calm & Contentious
“Now that I’ve read Merrill Markoe’s latest book, I’ve learned a lot—about virginity, fetishism, sociopaths and narcissists, and how she explained the BP oil spill to her dogs. Also that Merrill is funnier, smarter, and more honest than anyone any of us knows. Just accept it—I have.”—Winnie Holzman, creator of My So-called Life, co-author of Wicked
“Alarming and reassuring . . . Wait, that’s impossible.”—George Meyer, writer, The Simpsons
PRAISE FOR MERRILL MARKOE
Nose Down, Eyes Up
“Read this novel for its nose-to-the-ground wisdom, for its unsentimental take on family, and for the funniest, furriest pack of jokesters this side of the Marx Brothers.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Whimsical . . . an ideal place to bury your nose.”—Los Angeles Times
Walking in Circles Before Lying Down
“Bound to make you laugh out loud.”—People (four stars)
“Fun and charming . . . So spin around three or four times, curl up with your four-legged friend and enjoy.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A delight.”—Boston Sunday Globe
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Emmy Award–winning writer Merrill Markoe lives in Los Angeles, California, the garden spot of America, with four dogs and a man. She has authored three books of humorous essays and the novels Nose Down, Eyes Up; Walking in Circles Before Lying Down; and It’s My F---ing Birthday and co-authored (with Andy Prieboy) the novel The Psycho Ex Game. A lot of additional information about her—including a long bio, goofy videos, etc.—can be found at merrillmarkoe.com. After great amounts of hesitation, she is also on Facebook. But since she thinks about pulling the page down on a daily basis, check fast.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
Over the course of her career, MM has discovered that "an awful lot of people who make a living in comedy owe their livelihoods to a similar kind of mom." Therefore, she suggests you should "try to be raised by a woman who has at least five or six of the following traits: bright, clever, crafty, fearless, complex, artistic, resourceful and inventive, while at the same time: oblivious, controlling, manipulative, neurotic, tasteless, intractable, solipsistic, thwarted, repressed, inconsistent, critical, self-destructive, depressed, angst-ridden, furious, suicidal, violent, narcissistic, fearful, self-loathing, selfish and sadistic...." The good standard issue Crazy Mommy," says Markoe, "offers career nutrition by teaching her children that if they wish to retain their sanity, they had better start to see the awful things that happen to them as funny."
Also as useful as it is wise and funny is Markoe's personal 11-point collection of behavioral clues that will let you spot key characteristics of a boyfriend type who cannot be named here (7 letters, starts with an "a", ends with "e" and defined by my dictionary as "an irritating or contemptible person.") A prime example of whom is dissected elsewhere in the book under the pseudonym "Bobby."
Among other topics she tackles here: Love in the eighties... Lots of stuff about dogs, including the Markoe dog-care plan vs. that of the Dog Whisperer... Going to art school at Berkeley... Advice to fidgety young people (a k a the commencement speech she'd deliver if anyone ever asked)... The only way to cope with narcissistic personalities... What to take with you, what to leave behind and why when running away from Santa Ana winds and fires... What she learned about herself while on freelance writing assignments covering the Hollywood Athletic Club's "Fetish Ball" and an all-women's white-water rafting trip.