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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) Paperback – September 18, 2012
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Guest Reviewer: Jennifer Weiner on Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Jennifer Weiner is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, which was made into a major motion picture, and Then Came You. A graduate of Princeton University, Jennifer lives in Philadelphia with her family.
I know what you’re thinking: really? Another memoir-slash-observational-essay-collection by a first-generation Indian-American comedy writer-slash-sitcom star who shot to fame with a cross-dressing impersonation of Ben Affleck? My bookshelf’s full of those already!
Stay with me. Because, no matter how many quirky memoir-slash-observational-essay collections by funny ladies you’ve got on your shelves, you’re going to want this one there, too.
Mindy Kaling is an American original. Born round, to delighted parents (“Part of me wonders if it even made them feel a little prosperous, like Have you seen our overweight Indian child? Do you know how statistically rare this is?”), she grew up in New England, enjoyed hanging out with her family, excelled in Latin, made her way to Dartmouth and thence, as is decreed by law and custom, to Brooklyn, where her smart-ass jokes about subway rape netted her and her colleagues a private Town Car to ferry them to their slave-wage job as production assistants on a psychic-TV show on cable.
You’ll get the story of Kaling’s rise to a job as a staff writer and eventual performer on “The Office,” along with behind-the-scenes dish, several damning photos of Rainn Wilson, and candid shots of her on her way to various awards parties where she’d heard that Drake might play.
But, you say, we want more than that!
Dear reader, there is more.
In addition to the how-to-make-it-in-Hollywood saga (it involves breaking your best friend’s nose, onstage, in front of an influential critic, and working eighteen-hour days without complaint), you will also get delightful observations on body image angst (“Being called fat is not like being called stupid or unfunny, which is the worst thing you could ever say to me,”), the duties of a best friend (“I Must Be 100 Percent Honest About How You Look, But Gentle), a smart dissection of the women you will meet in rom-coms, and why men have it easier than women, in life and in grooming (Kiehls + Bumble and Bumble = Hot Guy).
It’s an autobiography crossed with witty observations with a twist of a shopping guide, and a pinch of Oprah-esque Your Best Life Now inspiration, told in Kaling’s singularly endearing voice. By the end of this book, you will want Mindy Kaling to be your best friend, and you will want her parents to adopt you. Since neither of these events is likely, or even possible, buy her book instead.--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
“She’s like Tina Fey’s cool little sister. Or perhaps… the next Nora Ephron.” —The New York Times
“The fashion opinions of Kelly Kapoor mixed with a Miss Manners-esque advice column.” —EW.com
“If you love Kelly and think the three minutes or so allotted her on episodes of The Office are too few, you can take home Mindy.” —The New Yorker
“Is anyone else kind of sold on the genius title alone?” —Nylon
“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is hilarious and relatable—just like Kaling’s classic Tweets.” —Ladies Home Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
People will almost definitely compare Kaling's new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) to Tina Fey's best-seller, Bossypants. It's not because the two authors look the same (they don't), or are on the same TV show (they're not), it's mostly because the two are well-known female television writers and actors. And Kaling knows the comparison will come, as she points out in the beginning of her book, noting that Fey's book will be seen as better.
"Unfortunately, I can't be Tina, because it's very difficult to lure her into a Freaky Friday-type situation where we could switch bodies, even though in the movies they make it look so easy. Believe me, I've tried."
The thing is, she shouldn't see it that way. While I haven't read Bossypants, I can say that Kaling's book is really very good. Smart and funny, she writes with an honest voice. The book reads more like a letter to a friend than a memoir, and I liked that about it. Because the book isn't really a memoir - sure, it's true stories about her life - but it's broken up into short essays, much like that of Sedaris (only much more conversational). She only mentions the humorous or thought provoking parts of her life, those that contributed to her career today. The book also has lists (or pliests as she calls them), essays that are mainly lists. (Like my favorite, "Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities.")It worked well. (However, it did leave me hanging at times. Like, why wasn't Brenda in California? When did Mindy become Kelly on The Office? I want details!)
The book is divided into a few different sections, which span her life: "I Forget Nothing: A Sensitive Kid Looks Back" (on her childhood), "I Love New York and It Likes Me Okay" (her move to NY and attempts to break into writing), "Hollywood: My Good Friend Who Is Also A Little Embarrassing" (her time on The Office), "The Best Distraction In The World: Romance and Guys" (obvious), "My Appearance: The Fun and the Really Not Fun" (her style and look), and "My All-Important Legacy" (her planned funeral, of course). Her writing is fast and always attention grabbing. The stories are never too long, and give you just enough detail to feel satisfied. (And, yes, I loved when she dropped in the names of celebrities. Amy Poehler is nice! I knew it!) But what I liked most was that even with every funny instance, there's a lot of heart in the book. She loves her job and it shows. She didn't break into the industry easy, and reading about her progression was inspiring.
Her story about how her play, Matt & Ben (a not-so-true story of the Matt Damen/Ben Affleck friendship) came to be was fantastic. I loved her attempts at babysitting (where she got to discuss the merits of N'Sync), and and stories of writing for SNL. And it broke my heard to hear her discuss how, during a photo shoot for People magazine, only size 0 dresses were available. She has a gift to write about painful moments, but make them feel hopeful and light.
I felt like, towards the end, she was trying to find something else to write about (thus the essays on romance). It's not to say they were bad - they were just as good - but I would have liked more personal stories.
I like Kaling because she doesn't make excuses for herself. She loves the color pink and shopping. She posts pictures of her getting zits before big interviews. Truly, she's just being herself and it's refreshing. I admit, I've only seen a handful of episodes of The Office, but the book convinced me to tune in. (I admittedly really wanted to read this because I love her blog. Have you read it? Go to it now.)
Kaling's book is remarkably enjoyable, and spotlights the writer in a new way.In the introduction, she says she'd like to be friends with Beyonce. Well, I'd like to be friends with her.
Chapter 1: Oh this is funny. Chapter Two: Still Funny Chapter Three: Wait didn't I just read this? Chapter Four: Yes we get it you are confident in your body even though you are not "hollywood thin". (Seriously she talked about this in every. single. chapter.)
This book was SO repetitive. It was the exact same sense of humor through the whole book and some chapters seemed irrelevant. I get what she was going for but this book seemed more like I was read some random persons diary (because of the complete lack of organization) than an actual book.