The short of it is this is Jane Austen Book Club with Downton Abbey.
The long of it can be described in the following conversation I had with my friend Kelly Anneken, the podcast host for a Downton Abbey podcast called Up Yours, Downstairs (which is great).
Me: It’s a book about a young woman who married too young, an empty nester who doesn’t know what to do with her life, a woman in a sham marriage, and then this concierge at this fancy Atlanta apartment complex that coordinates a weekly date to watch Downton Abbey.
I would like to mention I am a huge fan of Jim Gaffigan. I loved Dad is Fat, I love his standup, and I follow him on twitter and various other social media platforms. I’ve loved him since all the way back to his hot pocket days. I am a Jim Gaffigan hipster. We’re clear? Good? Now onto the review.
I didn’t love Food: A Love Story. It just didn’t have the same hook or story arc that Dad is Fat did, and this book doesn’t feel as strong to me. That being said, I think anyone that loves food will enjoy it a lot. This is a good uncle book. Buy this for your uncle who really likes ribs for Christmas. This book has an audience, I’m just not it. I’m sorry, Jim. I still really love Dad is Fat. Food just felt really sporadic and that the concept wasn’t as solid as it really needed to be. I just wanted this book to be tighter. Although his missives on Midwestern food is on point. His point about Cincinnati serving chili over spaghetti is entirely accurate and we need to stop doing it. As a former Midwestern resident, I understand the amount of mystery and butter that goes into every item that makes up Midwestern cuisine. (Hint: Germans, Polish, Italians – it’s all beef and carbs). But once we got to the hoaky names like “Wineland” and “Coffeeland” the joke began to just wear thin.
Jim Gaffigan’s website and comedy things are here.
Jim Gaffigan on Twitter.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
This book is so gorgeous. It’s been a long time since fairly simple prose and evoked such a complex story. Right away I was drawn it the character of Madeleine – a nine-year-old girl whose mother has died and whose father has completely checked out. Madeleine has the qualities of great children in literature, the toughness and headstrong nature of an Anne Shirley or a Harriet M. Welsch, with this added layer of having the drive to a jazz singer. She’s classic in her underdog standing but so layered and unapologetic in her depth. She is Jane Eyre before she grew up and got super irritating. Following the arc of a single day in the life of all of these characters is actually an interesting twist on the novel format. It pushes the minutia of the story to be so significant and to take up so much space in the narrative. The end result is a beautiful book with multifaceted plot revolving around the crux that is the Cat’s Pajama’s Club. Part club, part public nuisance, part halfway house, the Cat’s Pajamas seems to fit into the Philadephia setting so completely that I could see it so clearly wedged among old warehouses and run down apartment buildings.
This book was so witty and shines in the overcrowded sea of 2014 novels.
If you’re interested in learned more about Marie-Helene Bertino, her social media is below including Twitter and Facebook.
I want to start this review by saying that this book didn’t come with the cat and I am super sad about it. Because cute cat is cute. Anyway, the book. I loved it. There really isn’t a lot of flowery language that I can use to convey that enough. I fucking loved it. There. That’s flowery, right? Now that I’ve clarified my emotions on the book I’m going to tell you why you should buy it.
Jamie Kilstein is a great comedian made famous because in the wake of the Daniel Tosh rape joke controversy. Kilstein said rape was bad and caused the internet to rise up in a swell of bile and insist that it is not bad and that rape jokes are hilarious. Hint: it’s really bad and Daniel Tosh is a lousy comedian who is perpetuating rape culture. The controversy was pretty extreme. Well for a man. Well for a white man.Allison Kilkenny is a fantastic journalist who has slogged through the unpaid bullshit that is the modern media landscape. She’s written for Huffington Post and the Nation and other liberal publications that are going to depress you when you find out more about their business practices. Allison and Jamie are the the creators and hosts of the news podcast Citizen Radio and that’s the back story. Now that I’ve gotten that covered, let’s get to the core of the thing.
You are going to love this book. It’s a brilliant analysis and take-down of the poison that is media in America right now. It’s much bigger than picking on Fox News which is so damn easy considering it’s not technically a news source. But CNN and MSNBC are hardly excellent sources of news nor are they liberal or progressive. #Newsfail covers all sorts of brilliant and controversial topics – feminism, veganism, climate change, and war. Essentially, they have written a brilliant book that might get them killed. If you’re a news junkie, someone who wants to learn more about the state of the world, interested in feminism or animal rights, this book is going to blow your mind. Tons of swearing is thrown in for no extra charge! I highly recommend the chapter on John Stewart and the Daily Show. The prose is engaging and can be appreciated by people who aren’t into news because they feel disconnected. It’s like a draft of a revolution proposal written by pirates.
Now here’s the plan. You go to your nearest local bookstore. You order 7 copies. You give them to your conservative family and trick them into reading it by saying it’s a “family book club” and you want to read it together. Have yourself a passive aggressive progressive Christmas. May your heart be light. I know I will. Now go fuck shit up.