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Would Everybody Please Stop?: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas Hardcover – June 6, 2017
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"A tartly funny and often piercingly emotional ramble through life at a certain age." ―Penelope Green, The New York Times
"Observant . . . charming and companionable . . . To read the entire collection is to feel that one has gained an eccentric, generous new friend” ―Brook Allen, The Wall Street Journal
"Most of the 35 very short essays in Would Everybody Please Stop? are either hilarious, heartfelt, or both . . . Wonderful . . . Allen can be playful, sarcastic, and astute . . . There's sharp wit and social commentary aplenty . . . As delightful as her humor is, her serious essays hit deeper . . . It's all good." ―Heller McAlpin, NPR
"A laugh-out-loud funny debut . . . A comedic celebration of womanhood and growing up, these 35 short essays will have you second guessing why you ever avoided essays to begin with." ―Bustle
"The secret to a good monologue―and to being a good monologist, of course―lies in being able to speak alone in a way that a group of other people wants to hear. The author-performer Jenny Allen has made her name over the years both on the page and on the stage as just such a storyteller . . . Fans of Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck and even the peevish Andy Rooney will find a lot to enjoy in these essays, which are lively and not afraid to be quarrelsome." ―Kathleen Rooney, Chicago Tribune
"The essays make you laugh aloud and draw you in with a difficult-to-pull-off blend of wit and pathos. She comes across in print as she does in person: candid, ironic, and earthy yet worldly." ―Martha's Vineyard Magazine
"If you can get your hands on Jenny Allen’s new book, Would Everybody Please Stop? you may be tempted to gobble it all up at one sitting, telling yourself, “Just one more, and then I’ll save the rest for later.” But don’t do it. Portion out these deliciously funny essays so that you can have some serious laughs a few days running. . . Some humor writers work very hard to be funny; others, like Ms. Allen, just can’t help themselves." ―Martha's Vineyard Times
“A fantastic compilation of her greatest hits . . . Both heartfelt and hilarious” ―Tory Daily
"A hysterical essay collection filled with so-called 'reflections on life' and 'other bad ideas' that will keep the tears (of laughter) coming." ―Elite Daily
“Like humorist Erma Bombeck, yet for the 21st century, Allen has a conversational but dramatic performer’s voice that comes through in her essays and is a joy to spend time with as she deals with some of the harsher aspects of life . . . These pieces balance out into well-rounded set of writings that should please most humor fans; the lives of middle-aged women deserve more focus, and so Allen’s rich vein of pathos is a welcome addition. Verdict: Lovers of darkly humorous domestic comedy will enjoy this one . . . everyone should be able to find something to appreciate.” ―Margaret Heller, Library Journal
"This level of humor is one of the hardest to pull off. Most writers on the Humor shelf don’t even try. In Would Everybody Please Stop? Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas, Jenny Allen rarely misses." ―Jesse Kornbluth, Head Butler
"Am I permitted to say 'I laughed my ass off?' I was already a Jenny Allen fan, always hoping that every 'Shouts & Murmurs' piece would be hers, so imagine my delight in a collection of these gems. Would Everybody Please Stop? is deeply, wisely funny, with delicious, lovable neuroses on display. I adored it." ―Elinor Lipman, author of On Turpentine Lane and The Inn at Lake Devine
"Jenny Allen gets to the heart of things in the most inventive, unexpected ways. And she’s funny. Really, really funny. Wildly funny. And sometimes she breaks my heart." ―Delia Ephron, author of Siracusa
"I love this book more than Romeo loved Juliet. Also, it is so much funnier and more fun than that pill Juliet." ―Patricia Marx, author of Him Her Him Again The End of Him
"Really it’s too bad that Jenny Allen refuses to drink in any bar with a giant fish tank, never called that raw food restaurant to ask for their insanely good German chocolate cake recipe, and caused the annoying family upstairs to vanish into thin air. Because otherwise Jenny Allen is just plain perfect." ―Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Witches
About the Author
Jenny Allen is a writer and performer. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, among other publications. Her award-winning solo show, I Got Sick Then I Got Better, has been seen in venues across the country and in Canada. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Would Everybody Please Stop? is her first book.
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In a particularly funny chapter, "Take My House Please," Allen pretends to offer her ramshackle place on Martha's Vineyard for rent. Since she is a woman of integrity, she has a few warnings for potential customers: The water supply is funky, the wiring is dodgy, the fragile pseudo-foundation settles noisily, and you need to a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It if you want to keep the toilet flushing.
She also rages—with justification--against using "disconnect" as a noun and wishes people would stay away from the tired expressions "it is what it is" and "at the end of the day." In another piece, Allen wonders what it would be like to run a rich person's errands instead of plowing through her own mundane chores. Anyone who has been in her shoes can empathize with the strain of having to drag one's cantankerous parent to the doctor. Unfortunately, some of the essays--such as those that deal with swag, sexting, Elmer Fudd, and tie-dyeing--fall flat. Still, when she is on her game, Allen writing is original, imaginative, and insightful. She understands the ways in which we disappoint one another; make fools of ourselves; and struggle to cope with the effects of illness, aging, low self-esteem, and sexism. Ms. Allen empathizes with those of us who suffer tribulations that make us want to remain in bed instead of looking to the future with misguided optimism.
True. But which America?
I may sound like a Grade “A” Elitist here, but I’m going with the Volvo-driving, latte-drinking America — you know: the one populated by fans of Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker.
I’m thinking that’s you.
Not for political reasons. This is for cultural reasons. Smart culture. Sly culture. Whimsical culture. Decidedly not snark or snob culture. This level of humor is one of the hardest to pull off. Most writers on the Humor shelf don’t even try. Jenny Allen rarely misses.
Her method is generally to pose a question, and in a thousand words or less, dig into it.
“I’m Awake” starts like this: “I’m up. Are you up?”
Here’s the beginning of “Me, Flirting,” in which a woman of a certain age chats up a man at a wedding: “Is this seat taken? Actually, I’d better sit over here, on your other side. My ‘good ear’ side.”
And this: “Something’s wrong, here in the backyard. Is something bad about to happen?”
And this: “Would everyone please stop saying iteration? Who started iteration? Isn’t it just a stuck-up version of ‘version?'”
And then there are Perceptions, some reminiscent of Mitch Hedberg:
"I love coffee shops not only because I like the kind of food they serve, but because my server is not that interested in me. There isn’t a lot of pressure on our relationship; it’s more of a one-meal stand."
"When I meditate, I think to think about all the things that are happening right that second that I don’t know are happening but will later hurt me."
"I live alone. These things happen. Your children grow up, your husband leaves, and then you are one…. You know how you never have enough time? You will have it."
Who else would write a piece called "My Gathas" — and, in a spirit of helpfulness, start it with a helpful cheat sheet?
"Gathas are small verses or poems which we use to help us in our mindfulness practice. A great practice is to compose our own gathas to help ourselves and others to develop mindfulness in our daily life."
—The Web site for Luminous Ground, a Buddhist organization.
Taking my seat in the movie theatre,
I am excited to be here,
And offer my heartfelt hope that it is not
A film like “Carol”
— Beautiful, but so boring.
Swiffering my floor, I offer thanks to the Procter & Gamble company
For a marvellous cleaning product, although I know that
Some people think P. & G. got the idea of electrostatic cleaning cloths from a Japanese firm,
And that the Swiffer Sweeper is based on the “razors and blades” model — that is: I must keep buying expensive new replacement cloths endlessly.
You like bite? Try this, from one of her most recent pieces, “Roger Ailes’s New, Enlightened Code of Sexual Conduct.”
Here’s the set-up: “Roger Ailes, the disgraced former chairman and C.E.O. of Fox News, has completed a week at an intensive ‘Yes Means Yes’ seminar on sexual conduct.”
And here’s a bit of what he took away from that week:
“When a female employee, or potential employee, enters my office, and I greet her by locking the door and telling her to lift her skirt so that I may see her underpants, or to turn around so that I may “get a good look” at her buttocks, I will try to remember that.”
Jenny Allen’s not exactly the “denizen of a competitively literate Manhattan” that Ben Brantley, the drama critic of The New York Times, praises in a rave review of the one-woman show she staged a few years ago. Jenny Allen is more than a denizen. Since Nora Ephron left us, she rules.