For those who've yet to read it, the book can be divided into roughly three [unequal] parts: childhood, high school/college and Susan-as-an-adult. The first part was the best for me - perfect mix of funny and sad, just like a good sweet-and-sour sauce should be. The second section is shorter than the others, which is a good thing.
High school pretty much consists of a looooooooong riff on virginity, with a drawn-out celebrity stalking adventure thrown in. Her college years are covered by one anecdote; all I'll say about that is that Henry seemed like a "metrosexual before his time" and the more he went on about needing to screw his girlfriend the less convincing he sounded. This section was the low point for me. Stick with it though as the later stuff gets better.
Ms. Gilman's conclusions on the concentration camp tour of Poland were the high point of the book for me; her subsequent Congressional job and wedding plans are well-written, interesting stories that coast the book nicely to a smooth end.
I did have a major problem with her presentation: how could she possibly have gotten into Stuyvesant (one of the most prestigious high schools in the nation) and Brown, and have been that clueless? Her rant on having all those deductions from her first actual paycheck (as a high school student) struck me as preposterous. I don't see how she could possibly have not known about deductions (nor have missed the student withholding exemption status when she filled out her tax forms)? Her ignorance about Judaism (she is a native New Yorker raised in an ethnically Jewish, though non-practicing, household!) was so very far-fetched that I had to consciously disregard it as a failed fictional device. I deducted a star for this, and the uneven middle section.
That having been said, I enjoyed the book a lot, and would consider it as gift material for friends and family.
What a great read! If you were born in the mid-1960s, chances are you will appreciate many of the popular culture references and social issues recounted by Susan Gilman in this autobiographical book. Parts are seriously laugh-out-loud hilarious, too, largely due to Gilman's mastery of description and knack for highlighting the absurd with understatement.
In interesting memoir. Raised in a fairly dysfunctional family and making the best of it, Ms. Gilman has a way of softening what could have been horrid scenes with her wit and slightly skewed outlook on life- which I like... you know you gotta play with the cards your dealt- she does it quite nicely.
A wonderful romp, hysterically funny -- caveat: it's an autobiography in essays, but this makes it a better read because all the pieces are short and self-contained. You may put it down, but if Gilman is as engaging to you as she was to me, you won't want to.
This was cute. I laughed out-loud at some things. At first I thought Susan was my age (40s) but I think she's a wee bit older. I mean, I never had an obsession with Mick Jagger, thank goodness! And the story of not going to college to start her own business was a riot!
In my opinion this book is a waste of time to read. there are a few funny parts, even laugh out loud part, but to get to them you have to hear about stupid stories or growing up in the 70-80's. It is just too long and doesn't leave you with a sense of completing anything but a long book about a person you never have met, even though she did have some funnies along the way. If you have other books on you TBR then pass this one by, if you happen to see it laying in the bus station and you have nothing else to read, then by all means go for it!
Fantastic Gen-X memoir. Susan Gilman does not have any particular "problem," or "hardship," just a wonderful way of relating disappointments and realizations that many of us born between 1965 and 1980 share. Also a love letter to New York. Great read.
Memoir written by Susan Gilman. It explains a generation that is "neither Lost nor Beat, Silent nor Xed."
Especially enjoyed her account of her growing up years. "While the adults around us might have been singing "Joy to the World" and reading aloud stories like George Washington Carver: Father of Peanut Butter! a lot of kids in the neighborhood were simply interested in kicking each other's ass."
Less a true autobiography/memoir than slices of life and remembrances, this book is a very engaging and enjoyable read. While the writer certainly lived a different life from mine, I still connected with her experiences and reactions. I wanted to read lines out loud to my husband from almost every page - she has an excellent way with words. I really enjoyed this book.
Susan's writing style is amazing. Several times I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard. She has a great take of growing up as a full on feminist, but at the same time becoming giddy with delight when Mick Jagger points out that she's got huge boobs. This is a woman who's been everywhere and done everything, and it's a brilliant read. The book starts off with her at four years old, the daughter of hippies, prancing around in a tutu and figuring out how to rule the world. Her first foray into stardom comes in the form of an independent film that has her skipping around naked with another 4 year old, trying to catch a butterfly. We end with Susan getting married and having a total meltdown in the middle of a David's Bridal when she finds a wedding dress that looks amazing on her. The plan was to be married in red or black satin, but she stands on the pedestal in the middle of the store for *four hours*, trying to come to terms with the fact that she loves this pouffy white dress, even though it represents everything she hates. In between she writes for a Jewish newspaper, which leads to her accompanying a group of Jewish teens on a trip through the concentration camps in Poland. She's accidentally labeled "that lesbian Jewish writer" and suddenly receives call after call from unhappy Jewish moms who just want their gay daughters to meet someone nice, and is she doing anything this Saturday? Her parents get divorced and suddenly develop personalities, she jets off to work for a congresswoman in D.C., and later moves to Geneva.
Her life seems improbable, but the way she writes it makes it sound just like everyone else's upbringing, just with different type of parental interactions, series of crappy jobs, and dreaded apartment hunting.
I thought this was a great book. I laughed out loud many times, trying to find someone I can tell a funny part to. It is wonderful how Gilman can look back on her life and find humor in everything that happened to her.
Rebecca H. (Rebemdee) reviewed Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless on
I completely enjoyed this book. I found myself laughing out loud, commiserating, and nodding my head in agreement. I especially got the part about the "hypocrite in a pouffy white dress." I intended to be that bride in a plain dress, screw convention, I'm not spending a thousand bucks to wear something for four hours. And what's hanging in my closet? A big white pouffy dress. This is a fantastic read, and I couldn't put it down. The last few chapters aren't as entertaining and fun as the rest of the book, otherwise I would have given it a "10."