Archive for memoir

Helping Me Help Myself by Beth Lisick

Posted in Lisa, Non-Fiction with tags , , on June 29, 2008 by Lisa

Crossposted at Books. Lists. Life.

Helping Me Help Myself: One skeptic, ten self-help gurus, and a year on the brink of the comfort zone has a great premise. On New Year’s Day Beth Lisick wakes up and takes stock of her life. She’s not so happy with where she’s at professionally or personally and she’s looking for a way to get back on track. Initially full of disdain for self-help books, she decides to read one each month and fully commit herself to it’s guidelines. She starts off in January with Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles. She’ll eventually work her way through Steven Covey’s Seven Habits, Suze Orman, John Gray, Julie Morgenstern, 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan, Julia Cameron, Deepak Chopra, a cruise with Richard Simmons and a night with Sylvia Browne.

As the subtitle would suggest, she’s pretty skeptical that all this will help her solve her problems. She disdains the idea of a life coach like Canfield. She spends (literally) the last of her money on a two-week trip to Italy. She sees Chopra as “spirituality lite.” She is funny and sarcastic and makes fun of just the right things. She goes on a Richard Simmons cruise and falls in love with the man himself. (Honestly, the Richard Simmons chapter makes the whole books awesome. I find myself a little in love with him now as well!) At the end of the year, Lisick feels a bit smarter, but watching her journey I’m not convinced that she really learned anything. I am also not totally convinced she was completely honest with us- she continues to tells us again and again how very broke she is, but still manages to spend money on things like a trip to Italy. It seems like some aspects of her life are a bit exaggerated to make for a better story. Despite this, I still found the book to be enjoyable, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a very light memoir.

Candy Girl by Diablo Cody

Posted in Lisa, Non-Fiction with tags , , , on May 5, 2008 by Lisa

Review also posted at Books. Lists. Life.

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Candy Girl? Subtitled A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, Candy Girl is the memoir of Diablo Cody, a nice girl who started stripping in order to challenge herself to something scary and a little dangerous. She had a good job, a good boyfriend, didn’t have a background of prostitution, or drugs, or sexual assault or abuse. One day she walked past a strip club advertising for Amateur Night and decided to give it a go. This book is a recounting of that year.

I admit to a little bit of fascination with strippers (along with a lot of other people, judging by the rash of stripper/call girl memoirs I’ve seen around lately.) Like most everything I read, I requested this one from Paperbackswap and it sat on the shelves for a good long while. With the recent spotlight on Cody due to the success of Juno, I was inspired to pick it up. I brought it out to the living room and it sat here on my end table for a while. Last night (yes, just last night!) I picked it up and started it. I was a bit dubious during the first chapter. Cody uses a lot of slang and it really felt a bit overdone. I have so many books that I considered just giving up that quick, but I decided I owed it a couple of chapters at least. After the first two chapters she really cuts back on the slang and it becomes a lot more readable. (There is still a lot of slang, just not like in the first chapters- or the last chapter. It’s almost like she wrote those to pitch the book and then her style smoothed out during the actual writing of it.)

The book is a bit of an eye opener. I admit, I’ve never been in a strip club. I’ve never seen Showgirls.* I have no interest in male strippers. I have been in Video Blue exactly once- as part of a Bachelorette party, a phenomenon she addresses in the book. I am amazed at the line between legal and illegal and how closely the clubs skirt that line. I was fascinated by what works and what is sexy and what isn’t (Dayglo bikini gets you lapdances but fishnets are for the waitress, who knew??) Obviously, if I read the book so quickly, I ended up enjoying it. It’s not hard to read at all, no thought to it. If you’re at all offended by sex or nudity you should certainly stay away (if you didn’t know that already, I’ll just state the obvious.) If you’re looking for an account of how a “nice girl” could possibly find herself stripping, this is a good place to start.

*This reminds me, is anyone else watching Step it up & Dance on Bravo? I didn’t recognize Elizabeth Berkley at first.