Tuesday, October 21, 2014
"I Like You Just the Way I am": Narcissistic and Immature with a Few Laughs
I really wanted a funny memoir to make me laugh out loud. All the reviews of Jenny Mollen's "I like you just the way I am" touted her as the most hilarious woman on Twitter and praised her hysterical blog posts for "Playboy's" Smoking Jacket. After the Author's Note where she explains how she created composites and exaggerations and then says, "The only thing I'm sure of with complete certainty is that I was really thin and cute the whole time I was writing this" her likability factor dropped way low for me. This book was more narcissistic and gross than I wanted it to be, and the laugh out loud moments were few and far between. Maybe I was in the wrong mind set to read it, but it was hard for me to get to the end, and I found myself reading other books rather than facing another one of Jenny Mollen's tales of self centered TMI.
What I love about memoirs or personal essay collections is that you really get to be inside a person's head. David Sedaris is one of my favorite writers and his honesty and storytelling about the ridiculous things that happen in his life make me laugh out loud. When I saw Garrison Keillor speak and he presented some of the ridiculous moments of his life - some of them more perverse than others, I laughed. When I read "Bossypants" by Tina Fey, I laughed almost the entire way through the book at all of her ridiculous moments which she describes with awkward clarity. Jenny Mollen pales in comparison to the storytelling greats who incorporate humor into their life tales. She instead reverts to the most perverse, most disgusting, most sexual and most twisted events in her life to shock her audiences, and it just wasn't for me.
I didn't want to know about she and her husband's tryst with a Vegas prostitute, or her foray into the world of S&M after reading "Fifty Shades of Grey." I was disturbed by her adolescent behavior in stalking her husband's ex-girlfriend and her antics to try and meet her because she really just wants everyone to like her. I was dismayed at her manipulation of one of her best friends to get Botox, and horrified that she threw her entire social circle and family under the crushing Jenny Mollen bus. I did chuckle a little at her essay "Show Me Your Teets" about the time her dog ate condoms, but other than that, the rest of the book either freaked me out because of her emotional instability (even if it was exaggerated) and the crassness of the stories.
I really wanted to like this book as much as I think Jenny Mollen really wants people to like her. Her honesty was not charming or funny, but disturbing. Do women really think this way? Is this what the internal voice of the typical American woman is like? Am I that out of touch with what people think is funny? Ultimately, this book was not a laugh out loud collection of personal essays as much as it was a collection of essays that people who love "Playboy" would love to read. I am not that demographic, and people who are (and people who aren't) will never look at Jason Biggs or Jenny Mollen the same.