Sunday, May 8, 2011

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea and Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang (Gallery, 2008 / 2010).

I'm really not familiar with comedian Chelsea Handler, but I think I might have fallen for this book when I first saw the title a couple of years ago, and I finally read it and its follow-up. I haven't got around to finding her first book, My Horizontal Life, yet, but it is on the agenda. I settled in with Vodka, not completely knowing what to expect, and had a blast reading these stories of her completely ridiculous antics, tall tales and screwball love affairs.

I am not entirely certain I can believe some of the tales in this wild memoir; Chelsea's remarkably vulgar father is just an amazing piece of work. Dirty but never disgraceful, these are great stories of drink and debauchery and I love the self-deprecating tone that she takes. In one hilarious moment, she gets dumped by a red-haired fellow while another guy is hiding under her bed.

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang isn't quite as complete a success, mainly because it seems rushed and confused in places. The opening chapter, in which elementary school-age Chelsea discovers masturbation and just won't quit, for weeks, is a knockout, and a very long and detailed practical joke involving an ostensibly dead dog is very amusing, but I was completely lost in a story about a drunken trip to an island and the shenanigans on the beach that followed. Vodka is definitely the better of the two, so I do recommend it for older readers, with mild reservations about its follow-up.

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