“Maybe you bought this book because you love Sarah Palin and you want to find reasons to hate me,” she writes. “We’ve got that! I use all kinds of elitist words like ‘impervious’ and ‘torpor,’ and I think gay people are just as good at watching their kids play hockey as straight people.”
If you’re a man, she’ll thank you kindly for buying her book, but you’re not the target audience. Pimply teenage girls, virginal college co-eds, striving young professional women, overworked moms: This book’s for you.
There’s a riff about her mother giving her the learning- about-puberty pamphlet “Growing Up and Liking It,” which women of a certain age will remember with a cringe. There are chapters called “Remembrances of Being Very Very Skinny” (“I once took a bag of sliced red peppers to the beach as a snack”) and “Remembrances of Being a Little Bit Fat” (“My boobs were bigger”). There’s an astonishing section about the propensity of male writers at “Saturday Night Live” for peeing into cups and leaving them around the office.
Fey isn’t afraid to call herself a feminist, and she approaches sexism with her refreshing sense of humor. Here’s her response to nonsense like Christopher Hitchens’s 2007 Vanity Fair essay headlined “Why Women Aren’t Funny”: “It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
Don’t buy “Bossypants” looking for deep introspection or a long, tortured explanation of how she got that scar on her face. This is a book of comedic essays along the lines of Nora Ephron or Woody Allen, not a memoir. Fey even plays earnest questions, like whether to have a second child, for laughs. (That dilemma was answered last week, when she announced she was pregnant.)
Naturally, some of the pieces work better than others. A chapter about Fey’s romantic foibles at the University of Virginia was a bit slow. But I laughed out loud at her interview for a job as the night box-office manager with what she calls the Tiny Pretentious Theater Company.
“We like to think of ourselves as the most exciting theater company in Chicago,” the artistic director said.
“I like to think of myself as the most beautiful woman in the world,” Fey replied. “But where will that get either of us, really?”
(Laurie Muchnick is an editor for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.