Monday, January 16, 2012
Author: Mindy Kaling
Genre: Humor, memoir
Publisher: Crown Archetype, 2011
Read for: fun
My first reaction when I heard Mindy Kaling had written a book was to think, what? Isn't she the ditzy girl on The Office? What I wasn't aware of at that time was that she is actually one of the writers for one of the only shows I have ever found interesting enough to watch. Her book is a series of vignettes on her journey to writing comedy, friendship, dealing with body issues, and just plain chatter about life and randomness. If you are ever in the mood for girl talk and there just isn't anyone around, this book would fill your needs quite nicely.
The cleverness and appreciation for awkward moments that is prevalent in The Office is definitely present in Kaling's book as well. She pokes fun at herself and at Hollywood stereotypes while discussing some important issues, particularly for teenagers and women in their twenties. Kaling's road to success takes her through the uncertainty and occasional joblessness that I think most of us experience in our twenties, and they show her coming out at the other end victorious, with a well-known career in writing and acting. She describes some of the jobs she took before she found her place on the writing staff of The Office, including her cult hit "Matt and Ben," in which she dressed as a man and co-wrote with her best friend. She discusses the challenges of being the only woman on the writing staff and of dealing with disagreements among coworkers, and she manages to cover all of this with a sense of humor for her own mishaps and successes.
Beyond her work, Kaling also discusses more personal issues, such as her friendships with others, her experiences in high school, and her weight. She has an amusing list of rules for being a best friend (my favorite item: having the preferred female hygiene product of your best friend at your house for when they come over), and describes the way friendships change as you grow up and become interested in other things (the subject of the title essay). She discusses the way most movie and television stars aren't child wonders but hard-working, normal people who eventually find success and don't burn out early. And of course, she discusses her weight -- from taking pride in her small child birth weight (because that was the only time she was small, according to her) to describing what stylists prefer normal-sized women to wear (navy blue, with cap sleeves). I was a little disturbed when she mentioned that she was "chubby" and then disclosed she was a size 8. I don't consider Mindy Kaling to be chubby, first of all, just because she isn't a starving waif. And I know for many women and for myself, a size 8 is a goal, a skinny goal. (And for those of you skinny people scoffing at that, I am more than a size 8 and have been told by my doctor that I am at a healthy weight for my height and build). Referring to certain sizes is risky business in our uber-sensitive, weight-obsessed world, and it made me a little concerned for younger girls reading it who may be a healthy or thin size 8 and may think that it isn't good enough because the author referred to it as chubby. Anyway, end of little soapbox moment. Other than that, I found her insights on weight and eating amusing and could relate to many of them.
Overall, this is a fun little book that will have you laughing and wanting to share particular gems and anecdotes with your friends. Great for a trip or a beach read, it will satisfy any craving for some poignant humor about womanhood and success.
Warnings: Some swearing, some slight innuendo