I always think it is kind of funny when I am on vacation and see a lot of folks reading. For many folks, I'm guessing it may be the only time they read a book but for me, with the exception of being in transit, vacations are the pretty much the only time (or ideally two or three times) a year that I do not read.
So when I was getting ready for this trip, I knew I wanted something light and that could be easily put down and picked back up. I am sure it will come to a surprise to no one that Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin was something that fit my bill and, true to my word, I only read it both plane trips, devouring the rest upon the return to reality.
There was never a doubt that I would enjoy this book. I am a huge Kathy Griffin fan. I have seen her stand-up three times (and will very likely make it fourth in January), have watched "My Life on the D-List" since the beginning, heck I have a "Kathy Griffin" TiVo Wish List. That said, I did not very high expectations for it.
The memoir genre is a bit hit-or-miss for me. I have read a whole bunch of them this year and have had issues with pretty much all of them. I found Monica Seles' book to be a bit too mechanical (and I love her just as dearly as Kathy)... Michael J Fox's a bit too "ain't I great" (not intentionally, but in a between the lines kind of way)... Elizabeth Edwards', amazingly open, honest, devastating memoir, though ultimately I found myself psycho-analyzing and judging her when it came to her husband's affair.
So with the recent checkered past with memoirs and pretty much thinking what didn't I know about Kathy, I was a bit surprised how good of a book this turned out to be. Kathy's "voice" and humor is very much intact (even with a ghostwriter) and she surprised me with so many stories, and often quite serious ones, that have never been part of her stand-up act or the D-List show. However, ever being the publicity whore, if you have seen any of 378 talk shows she's done to promote this book, you may be quite familiar with those even now (i.e. the big 'ole black sheep in her family).
While Kathy is not everyone's cup of tea (I would imagine even among her beloved gays, she might not have some fans... but as a snarky, pop-culture loving variety of gay, I am right in her sweet spot) and I can't imagine a non-fan reading this book, you still come to understand and respect Kathy on a whole new/different level. While she has had the plastic surgeries and struggles with her weight and self-esteem issues, she took a no compromise approach to her career, thus making it a pretty long rode to the success she has achieved today.
The one misstep in the book is a painful and painfully long chapter detailing her "relationship" with Apple co-founder (??) Steve Wozniak. The chapter is largely unedited emails between the two (which made me think the ghostwriter had a far greater role/influence, though I am one to talk with my super casualness in this blog and in emails as well) and I am really not sure what Kathy was thinking, you get that Woz is socially stunted, but brilliant geek in less than a handful of these emails. Unfortunately, this comes quite late in the book and leaves a slightly bad aftertaste. I'd suggest read a couple emails and then skip the rest of this chapter.
But overall, it was a very enjoyable read and it had everything you'd want in a memoir... honesty with healthy doses of drama, humor, and dish!