Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review Tuesday: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

In an effort to read more and become a little more discerning over what I read, and in order to keep up with my New Year's resolutions, I'm going to be posting book reviews each Tuesday. That's the hope, anyway. I know I'll miss a few here and there, but the idea is to read more books, post my reviews, and ultimately knock out two resolutions with one stone. And, these reviews will be my opinions and aren't anything close to print quality. I don't know anything about writing a book review, except to write what I liked and didn't like. I am the ultimate non-authority figure.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling

I received a copy of this book from Brian and Robyn for Christmas. I was pretty pumped to see this, since I love The Office, and Mindy as Kelly Kapoor cracks me up every single time. (Remember Phyllis' wedding?)

On the whole, I enjoyed Mindy's memoir. She writes conversationally, and her memoir includes one-liners and a sardonic tone that I myself have often used.

I feel like I should mention here that this is NOT "great writing". Shakespeare, she is not. But for a book of this type, that's perfectly okay. No one wants to read a memoir that's didactic and ridiculous. And it's nice to know that Mindy has a sense of humor about herself and her career up to this point.

The first few chapters are my favorite. Mindy has a way of relaying the events from her youth as though she's sitting down with a girlfriend over coffee. Her description of herself as a fat Indian child are especially entertaining. ("Do you know how statistically rare this is?") She has a really great way of telling her audience about the realization that her junior high besties weren't the super fab group she thought they were, coming on the heels of a slumber party in which she was the only one tickled by Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks.

The first few chapters are written really well, with lots of heart and thought tucked in for good measure.

After that, especially in the last part, the writing feels really rushed. In the introduction, Mindy mentions that this is NOT Tina Fey's book. But I couldn't stop from feeling like she was under the gun to get her book printed because Tina Fey's book was coming out. (I have not read Bossypants.)

While Mindy's conversational tone lends itself to the first part, the latter parts of the book read like you're standing at your high school reunion, talking to that girl you were sorta-kinda-friends with who made it big, politely exchanging stories about your life since high school, all while she's sipping her drink and scanning the room, looking for her best friends or ex-boyfriend to enter the gym.

Obviously, The Office is a huge party of Mindy's life right now, and, at this writing, what she's best known for. She does a great job talking about her experiences there, though she's not above a little name-dropping throughout that chapter. She's also sure to mention specific episodes that she's written and/or directed. Basically, lines of this chapter read as, "The Office yada yada yada blah blah blah the episode, "Michael's Last Dundies", which I directed. Blah blah blah Dundies, which I also wrote." It comes across as though she's trying to make sure we know she's a writer/director/actor on the series, not just Kelly Kapoor. I'm uncertain if this is bragging, or just a poor explanation of everything she does as a member of The Office crew.

For reasons unknown, maybe so she can't be sued or out of respect for her former colleagues and employers, Mindy changes the names of everyone in the book who isn't directly associated with The Office and the two-woman show that launched her career, Matt and Ben. For a time, she lived in New York City and was a production assistant on Crossing Over with John Edwards. She doesn't really comment on whether or not she believes Edwards has supernatural powers, but notes that the shows gave comfort to people who were grieving and hurting. But she never refers to Edwards or the show by name. She calls it Bridging the Underworld with Mac Teegarden for some reason. In this instance, I think she could have said, "I was a production assistant for a television show that attempted to connect the living to the other side", but I'm not a writer, editor, or production assistant. Ergo, I know nothing.

I'm still trying to figure out why she chose to include a chapter titled, "These Are The Narcissistic Photos On My Blackberry." It doesn't add much to the book, just the knowledge that prior to award shows she likes to check herself and make sure her makeup looks okay and that she's not smiling funny.

Her eulogy, written by a friend, is pretty funny. It's the kind of eulogy I'd like to be given at my own funeral, given by my best friend who can say, "I'm so glad I can finally say these thoughts out loud."

Overall, this is a good, light, relatively entertaining read. Fans of The Office will/should be pleased. This is a great beach or treadmill read. I cranked it out in a week because my reading time is limited, but it's easily finished in two days if you have the time to read.

Grade: B+


  1. My favorite part was her undying love for Conan.

    Are you surprised?

    1. Is the Pope Catholic? Nope! I wanted a little more inside information on her intern days there. I wanted more Conan stories! I wanted her to shiv NBC a little, but I imagine that'd be a bad move for her career.


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