Monday, January 3, 2011

I prefer to do my walks of shame in the evening, when it's not so bright

I'm reading My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler for my "book club".  It's not really a book club, in that 90% of the time we aren't discussing the book but it is a good excuse to get together with friends, drink wine and eat food.  And it does give me the excuse to break free of my normal book selections and go for something I wouldn't normally pick up.  Like this month's book.

I'm not against Chelsea Handler but I can't actually remember seeing any of her stand up.  I know she has a talk show on some channel.  I'm assuming E!  But while I can't recall ever seeing any of Handler's work I can't say this is entirely out of my comfort zone.  I wouldn't have picked this book up on my own but comedic short essays is something I'm familiar with.  I figured it would be something along the line of Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There Would Be Cake.  Handler's stories are more connected.  They're all about her one-night stands, her drinking and her lies (which are probably my favorite part).  But they do have the similarity of being short, humorous, stand alone pieces, several of which are kind of boring.  I was hoping to laugh more; she's a comedienne after all.  It has its moments but so much of it feels like she's trying too hard.  Maybe if I was already familiar with her voice from her stand-up I would be able to hear her tone in the reading and get something more out of it.  But really, I should get her tone from her writing.

She hits her stride about 10 stories in, which is a little more than halfway through the book.  The stories from her early life don't have the easy tone she manages in the later stories.  I never actually found myself laughing out loud while reading these but I was smirking silently during many points in the second half of the book.  But I know my sense of humor isn't the same as everyone's.  It seems to be pretty far from what a lot of people find funny.  A few of the girls from book club have read this book before or other Handler books and said they were constantly laughing out loud while reading them, so this is definitely someone's martini (given the book, I thought this was more appropriate than "cup of tea") but it isn't really for me.  "Don't Believe A Word I Say" and "Out of the Closet" are my favorites.  They're filled with more lying than the other stories and her lies are hilarious because they make no sense.  I want the confidence to tell people I'm an Olympic bound synchronized swimmer that can hold her breath for 6 minutes and to completely not care that it makes no sense and I can't back it up in the slightest.

When Handler goes for shock value she misses the mark.  It feels like she's trying so hard to be edgy that she loses the humor.  She did make me want to watch clips of Louis CK (check out his piece on being white) so that's something.

Title quote from page 77

Handler, Chelsea. My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands.  Bloomsbury, New York. 2005