Bossypants by Tina Fey (audio)

This book has been out for a little over a year. What took me so long? Thank you, fellow bloggers who raved about this book, for finally getting it into my ears. As others have said before, get the audiobook! It does make it slightly cumbersome to go find your pdf file to see the pictures she refers to; but it’s so worth it to hear her make her jokes herself.

Tina Fey is a funny lady. This I knew, and I looked forward to the laughs, which are there in abundance. But what I hadn’t entirely expected was the more serious handling of issues like a woman’s place in male-dominated industries – which was silly of me, because Tina Fey does address issues. She tells stories about her own upbringing, her youth, her discovery of acting and comedy, her time spent at SNL, the creation of 30 Rock, her honeymoon, motherhood, and more. She is always classy in her discussion of other celebrities or folks from the industry: any criticisms are well packaged in understanding and explanation, while she mostly praises her colleagues in glowing and meaningful terms. She doesn’t just call everyone talented and charming – she gives thought-out, complex, positive evaluations. And any time she has dirt on someone, she leaves that someone entirely cloaked in anonymity (“the letters from their names are sprinkled randomly through this chapter”). I never got the impression she was being less than honest, because she still made her criticisms, but she was always respectful of the people she has worked with, and that impressed me.

Tina analyzes the challenges that face a woman in a position like hers, breaking into a field that (in her early days especially) was thought to be men’s work, and she does so fairly. For example, she writes (narrates) a funny and wise anecdote about the moment that she realized that she was experiencing, not institutional sexism, but a sheer male ignorance of menstruation and “feminine hygiene.” And she gives good advice.

She is also hilarious, and wise, about women’s fashion and body image, and the culture of Hollywood, modeling, and television. In the chapter entitled “Amazing, Gorgeous, Not Like That,” she describes a “typical” magazine photo shoot in great detail. I found the scenes regarding hair and makeup especially exotic, weird and different. I’m pretty far from a fashion photo shoot, myself.

This book was great fun and very funny, as you might expect; but as you might not have guessed right off (I didn’t), it also makes some good, serious points. There’s some well-stated feminism to be found here amid the good times. Highly recommended, and as many others have said before me, do get the audio version.

Rating: 7 pairs of Tina Fey glasses.

5 Responses

  1. This isn’t at all the kind of thing I normally read, but it occurs to me that if I’m going to like anyone’s book in this vein, it’s likely going to be hers. Just requested from the library. Thanks!

  2. […] her the compliment of putting Let’s Pretend This Never Happened up next to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, also read by the author and also hilarious. Go check out Jenny Lawson because she is unique and […]

  3. […] Bossypants by Tina Fey, and read by the author: surely this will be obvious? Tina Fey is hilarious and you should let her tell you her story. Qualification: there are images in the book that you miss on the audio version. […]

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