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Girl Walks into a Bar: A Memoir Hardcover – July 8, 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The life of a young media striver (she's William Saroyan's granddaughter) overflows with brushes with greatness, aborted romances, glamour, doubt and expensive mixed drinks. In Saroyan's Sex in the City-style memoir, she explores her life as a determined 20-something in New York City, enthralled with and then repelled by her own aspirations. Soon after landing a job at Cond‚ Nast Traveler, she becomes disenchanted with the glossy magazine world of which she had so badly wanted to be a part. Saroyan returns to Los Angeles, where she grew up, having "burned out" on the hyper-ambitious lifestyle of New York media by age 25. In L.A., she continues to struggle with the image of success she's created for herself and dabbles in a series of complicated relationships. At times, Saroyan (who is now in her early 30s) gets bogged down by the minutiae of her travails. However, she writes with ease and acuity about personal disappointments and dangerous love interests, putting into words what often goes unsaid about success and its relation to our private lives. After an article she writes for the New York Times Magazine is abruptly dropped, she asks, "Why do we feel like we're going to lose everything personally if we fail professionally?" At this book's heart is the symbiotic relationship between personal and professional expectations. Saroyan's story will no doubt resonate for many, whether they're currently struggling in their careers or are in a position to reflect on the bumpy road that got them where they are.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School--In the 1990s, when the author's grandmother no longer paid for her college tuition, Saroyan won a scholarship to Barnard. This feat seemed relatively pedestrian to her. In fact, Saroyan's life was outside the norms of most 20-somethings. The granddaughter and daughter, respectively, of writers William and Aram Saroyan, the author doesn't identify her celebrity relatives, as those facts are unimportant in this book. Between her artistic parents, who barely made ends meet, and her drug-addicted siblings, she struggled with the pressures of her family, but, more significantly, her own burden to redeem its honor somehow. The book is a series of quests and adventures, through relationships and romance, academic and professional life. Saroyan has the gift to find the profound in the ebb and flow of growing up. She addresses the perennial question: "Who am I and what do I want to be?" Teens will readily appreciate and understand the ongoing process of "becoming" all the while feeling as though there should be closure somewhere, somehow. In a market flooded with superficial and supercilious "chick lit" books, this is a very special autobiography.--Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (July 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037550611X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375506116
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Decostole on December 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I normally don't write reviews but just had to when I saw all the negative feedback below. As a 25-year-old, single New Yorker working in the publishing world - I thought this book was dead on with my experiences, fears, thoughts and everything else going on in my life. I don't think the author was trying to make people feel sorry for her (as one reviewer suggested) but rather being very honest about the thoughts in her head. I thought the author described perfectly how the choices and freedom that women have today in terms of career can sometimes be a curse instead of a blessing. I would reccomend this book to anyone who is figuring out what they want to do with their life beacuse if nothing else, it makes you feel like you are not alone.
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By A Customer on September 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I started reading this book because I loved the title, AND I could relate - I also worked in the New York media world, recently moved cross-country, and am in my 20s. I've gotten halfway through the book, but I just CANNOT finish it. Forgive me for sending out bad energy with this review, but maybe this will be constructive criticism for Saroyan if she writes a future book. I agree with the reviewer below who wrote that you get the sense that the author is hiding something from you. And that's exactly it! The author hides behind her intellectual, show-offy, wordy style of writing (and thinking). It's as though she's hiding her real feelings behind her sentences, when all the reader wants is to read about the emotional truths, pains, joys, etc.. The author frequently writes as though she's building you up for this great epiphany, but then she deflates the build-up with pseudo-intellectual analyses of her situations and relationships that circle back upon themselves and leave you feeling completely empty. Maybe that was the author's point. But really, as a reader, all you want to say to her is, "Just come out and say it! What are your real feelings?!" And the way she cuts up her sentences with loads of clauses doesn't help the read either. This book had the potential to be a lot more resonant for 20-something career girls, but it ends up reading like the author's own catharsis, which you wonder if she ever really reached.
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Format: Hardcover
One gets the sense, reading some of these reviews, of a disconnect between expectation and reality. Framed as some breezy, Candace Bushnell-ian bauble, A Girl Walks Into A Bar is, I suppose, a failure. Framed as a work of art--aphoristic, alert, bristling with twenty-eight different levels of intelligence--it's amazing. Saroyan's gift is for a kind of self-consciousness that never descends into navel-gazing, or tail-chasing, and for self-disclosure that never stoops to self-display or cheap confession. A fantastic, and badly misunderstood, book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What's so lovely, and so rare, in Girl Walks Into A Bar, is the candid voice (both spiky and tender) and the pure honesty. There's a simplicity to the voice, and also a sliver of ice running through it. This is not a frothy romp through a 20-something's giggly misadventures. It's a slyly devastating book of the very real anxiety and fear, expectation and pain of becoming an adult. No one gets out of this book unscathed, least of all Strawberry herself.

This is an unvarnished look at a young woman's missteps, small successes, disappointing failures. (It's also a subtle take-down of NY media.) A rare find.
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Format: Hardcover
The questions asked in this book make it worth the read alone, but how they come to be answered, or how they remain unanswered is the thrill of the ride. Discovering that the world you thought was the 'be all end all' is not lays at the heart of "Girl Walks into a Bar." Failure isn't the biggest threat to success, it turns out. Failure of failure is. Saroyan gets that point across better than most. Beautifully written. Gripping to read.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that I read the book when it came out, about eight years ago, so it's not totally fresh in my mind. But there are some things that never left me, which is more than I can say about most novels. The frivolous and uber-ambitious publishing world; the two guys whose job it is to come up with names for lipstick shades (hilarious); the trip to the Bahamas (even the little white dress - so Alice in Wonderland...); the pain and hurt of feeling one's way in the world when the moral compass is broken; the tragi-comic relationships that never come to fruition. The wit, the humor, the vulnerability, the style, the voice. Yes, there's glitter and there's gloss and lots of witty repartee but what better metaphor for the publishing world and that blind, driving ambition that fuels so many 20 something year old's? What I'm waiting for is Saroyan as she heads into her 40's, when the glitter and gloss of a 27 year old has been replaced by the raw and weary wisdom of a grown-up. When we find out if all those questions, fears and ambitions were simply foolish youth or are they still the pertinent questions whose answers we will never know?
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a third of the way through this book, and I'm much more sympathetic towards young girls trying to make sense of where they want to go, who they want to be, and so on. It's frightening making career choices. It's horrible to realize you're getting close to what you wanted, only to have a creeping suspicion that it's not what it's cracked up to be.
This is not destined to be a great classic, but it goes a long way in helping the parents of smart girls who should seamlessly slide into "a life," that it ain't that easy. It was so much easier for a 1967 graduate!
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