Book Review: Bossypants
Posted January 18, 2012on:
Bossypants, by Tina Fey, Little, Brown and Company, 2011, 277 pp.
After all that hard work, it was time for something totally fun—and this was awesome fun. Celebrity bestsellers are not usually my genre of choice, even for the lightest reading, but I love Tina Fey. Ever since I saw the excerpt “The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter” start to circulate around the internet, I knew this would be a good read. I was not disappointed. (And if you haven’t read the “Mother’s Prayer” piece, click on the link right now. Just do it.)
“The Mother’s Prayer” captures what I love about Tina Fey. It’s not just the beautiful, smart, witty, powerful woman that she portrays. It’s not just that she’s wicked funny. It’s that she says out loud the kinds of things that I think in my head, but would be mortified to admit. Only she says them funnier. She brings intelligence, humor, honesty together, but always with a sense of gentleness that makes me think she’s a really nice person, broken like the rest of us.
Bossypants captured that same spirit and voice, and I enjoyed it immensely. There were lots of entertaining stories about life backstage at Saturday Night Live, or how she got into comedy, or what it was like to start 30 Rock, but there were also more pieces like “The Mother’s Prayer,” which also made me pause and think “that’ll preach.”
One of those sections was the opening chapter called, “Origin Story,” which talked about how she got her scar and how the scar has impacted her life. (To be honest, we don’t have a very big TV, and I never realized she had a scar until I read the book.) She realizes that her scar always got her lots of attention, and she always thought of it as an asset rather than a liability.
What should have shut me down and made me feel “less than” ended up giving me an inflated sense of self. … I accepted all the attention at face value and proceeded through life as if I really were extraordinary. I guess what I’m saying is, this has all been a wonderful misunderstanding. And I shall keep these Golden Globes, every last one! (9)
Funny, yes—but also a truth that far too few people understand. Our scars are often what make us extraordinary.
One of my other favorite sections was her description of working at Summer Showtime, a theater program she worked for in high school and college. She describes it as a “haven for gay teens.” (27) That was not its purpose, of course, but she compares it to putting out a bird feeder for birds and attracting a lot of squirrels. She concludes her memories this way:
With his dream of a theater program for young people, Larry Wentzler had inadvertently done an amazing thing for all these squirrels. They had a place where they belonged, and, even if it was because he didn’t want to deal with their being different, he didn’t treat them any differently. Which I think is a pretty successful implementation of Christianity. (43)
You rock, Tina Fey. Thanks for making me laugh, making me think, and making me feel good about being a working mother, a bossy woman and a geek.