I think I understand why people say they don't like a particular slice of culture, vampire fiction, for example, from the bookish point of view, or reggae, from a musical one, but it's always made me a bit sad.
By all means, bypass the crap, life is too short to read shitty science fiction, and the drive from your garage to the street is too long to listen to most Contemporary Country, but closing yourself off from all of it? That means you lose out on losing yourself in the far-out worlds of A Wrinkle in Time, one of the most enjoyable books from my childhood (and one I reread in adulthood) or singing along to Carrie Underwood's Sonny & Cher Show-era story song, Before He Cheats. So why would you do that?
I'm a shameless consumer of fine-quality "crap," by which I mean only "that which is not generally regarded as highbrow by anyone." I love Valley of the Dolls, The Brady Bunch, Showgirls and a slew of confectionary mid-century movies, not to mention my beloved Play Misty for Me. And really, I think my view makes more sense: is Take the Money and Run the "lesser" Woody Allen movie for being funnier, or am I really supposed to like Shadows and Fog more for its impenetrable artsiness?
I say roll with the finest in every genre and you can't go wrong! Balls-out comedy? Try Caddyshack or Blazing Saddles: well-written, well-acted and rollicking fun from beginning to end. Hot Western action? Take your pick, but I'd start with Shane or Deadwood (unless you're looking for campy, noirish Western, in which case it's Johnny Guitar all the way. There are great musicals (Singin' in the Rain), great chick flicks (Thelma & Louise), great horror films (Psycho), great melodramas (Gone with the Wind). There's even great porn, and if you don't believe me, you haven't seen Deep Throat (but you should, unless you're really delicate).
I feel the same way about books, including celebrity tell-alls. Yeah, most of them are junky, but that just makes the good ones, I'm with the Band, Pamela Des Barres' super-dee-duper autobio chronicling her days on the Sunset Strip in groovy, rock-a-licious, '60s L.A., that much better.
This is my long-winded way of teeing up comedienne/actress Kathy Griffin's new memoir, ingeniously titled Official Book Club Selection, as the true slice of hilarious awesomeness it is. Okay, how awesome? It's I-read-the-whole-thing-on-my-Kindle-app-for-iPhone awesome! It's "I laughed out loud 25 times!" awesome. It's even well-written awesome. (Not that I think Griffin would be a bad writer, just that with everything she has going on, I figured there's no way she'd have time to write it. Maybe that's why she brought on Robert Abele to write it with her, uncredited up front, but credited front and center and in no uncertain terms in the acknowledgements. That, my friends, is the mark of a class act.)
I will confess that however prickly I may have found Kathy Griffin to be when I knew her at the Groundlings (her star was well on the rise during my tenure), she was always nothing but classy. She offered up her house for a mutual friend's memorial service, I'm not 100% certain she knew him well. And when I got my ass kicked to the curb and ran into her at a play elsewhere, she was the perfect combination of "That sucks" and matter-of-fact, allowing for bitterness but with a laugh, and always with compassion.
So yes, there's dish in this book. How could it have the Griffin imprimatur and not? But there is also tremendous heart and genuine humor, as well as a stunning example of the kind of tenacity and work ethic necessary to get from any old place to somewhere special.
I loved the hell out of this book; if you can tolerate the outrÃ© with your humor, I can't imagine that you wouldn't, too...
- Buy Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin on Amazon
- Visit Kathy Griffin's website
Image ©Random House or Kathy Griffin or someone else, but not me.
Yo! Disclosure! Links to the books in the post above are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click on them and buy something, I receive an affiliate commission. Which I hope you do: it helps keep me in books to review. More on this disclosure stuff at publisher Michael Hyatt's excellent blog, from whence I lifted (and smooshed around a little) this boilerplate text.