Wednesday, February 15, 2012

REVIEW: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Published 2011 by Crown Archetype. Audiobook narrated by the author.

After Tina Fey's Bossypants was such a success last year (and continues to sell well, at least where I work), Mindy Kaling's memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) became the "it" celeb memoir of the 2011 holiday season and on. And I can see why. It's funny, cute and entertaining- like Kaling herself.

I listened to the audiobook version of Kaling's book, narrated by herself and a couple of other "character" voices. Kaling, a writer for and star of the TV show "The Office" recounts her high school and college years in New England (she grew up in the Boston area and attended Dartmouth College), post-college years making a go of comedy in New York City and her Broadway success with "Matt and Ben," a play she co-wrote and starred in with her best friend Brenda Withers. After the play, she moved to Hollywood and hit the big time with "The Office," a hit show based on the British TV show of the same name originally created by British comedian Ricky Gervais.

I don't watch "The Office" and while I know Kaling has legions of fans (one tweet from her was enough to sell out her Harvard Book Store appearance within hours), I guess I kind of don't get it. Based on the book alone, Kaling seems like a perfectly nice, perfectly ordinary young woman with a great job in Hollywood but not much else to distinguish her from all the other nice, ordinary, funny people out there. She's funny, and makes some insights about life and love but she also struck me as sheltered and princessy. Her lifetime of struggle with body image issues is a major theme but I have to admit a certain lack of sympathy for a woman who describes herself as "chubby" and then reveals she's a whopping size 8. That may count as fat inside a Hollywood bubble but that's not where most of us live. Or the standard by which we should evaluate our health and physical fitness.

So on balance I liked her book, and I enjoyed listening to her tell her own story; I just didn't think that story was anything special. She's fun in a Tina-Fey-lite kind of way, but if you enjoyed Bossypants I would think about why you enjoyed Bossypants before deciding to pick up Everyone. If you liked Fey's comedy and career highlights, you'll enjoy Kaling's; if you liked Fey's book for her maturity and smarts as well as her laughs, you might be more like me and find that Kaling's book has a little less to offer but is amusing enough nonetheless.

Rating: BEACH

I'm a Powell's partner and receive a small commission on sales.

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Allison E said...

I absolutely agree with this review except to say that it made me kind of dislike her. I didn't empathize with anything she said. I kept thinking "Wow, she would be so annoying if I knew her in real life."

Zibilee said...

A size 8 is "chubby"? Wow. I think this book would annoy the pants off of me, and I can't imagine myself relating to her at all. While I enjoyed Fey's book, I don't think I would like this one. Very honest and thoughtful review today, Marie. I can imagine that if I did read this, we would probably feel similar.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Oh, I loved Bossypants, and I doubt seriously that this one would even come close. I like Mindy and I am a HUGE Office fan, but I guess I'm not all that curious about her and am pretty sure she doesn't have anything she can teach me. She is definitely not built like a Hollywood actress but I think anyone that is surrounded by actresses is not going to be attached to reality.

bermudaonion said...

She spoke at BEA last year and just about everyone thought she was hilarious. I wasn't familiar with her and felt like maybe she tried too hard.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Memoirs is the in-thing now. Everybody is writing one and they do for different reasons. Sometimes it's funny, interesting and educative, at other times it's neither and becomes empty.

juna said...

I bought Mindy Kaling's book for myself and my 13-year-old daughter--both of us fans of The Office--and we were both a little disappointed. I think we (naively) expected the same oddball snappiness of the series, and put the book aside after reading just a few essays. When I took a second look at the book I liked it better, and started to appreciate her descriptions of being an outsider, for example, during her stint at SNL, when she sat by "smiling and saying nothing" while the cast members she so admired talked and goofed around.

Kathleen said...

I'm a big fan of The Office and love Mindy Kaling so I think I would enjoy this one but I'm not rushing out to buy it anytime soon.

Aths said...

Aww, I did have some hopes for this one. But I'm pretty sure all the things that bothered you will bother me as well.