Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Fair Lazy Examines Reality Television, Fine Art, & Opera (and Tells Us Why Survivor Isn't All That Bad)

Jen Lancaster is one of my favorite authors, and also one of my favorite bloggers. Her humorous memoirs are based on her life, from her growing up days (Pretty in Plaid) to her fall from CEO to the gutter (Bitter is the New Black) to her issues with neighbors (Bright Lights, Big A**) to her struggle with weight loss (Such a Pretty Fat).

Her latest is My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb A** Is the New Black, or, a Culture-Up Manifesto, with a focus on her quest to raise her intellect level by watching less reality television and attending more cultural events. She sets off across the country (and in her hometown of Chicago) to eat ethnic foods, watch Broadway plays, examine fine art, and listen to classical music. Along the way she learns that being high-class isn't as bad as she thought -- but neither is watching an episode of Survivor every now and then. Turns out both "cultured" events and reality TV have a thing or two to teach us (like, um... don't cheat on your significant other on national television -- Temptation Island, I'm looking at you).

I really liked the book, but I don't think its Lancaster's best effort. I think she really came into her own with Pretty in Plaid and Such a Pretty Fat. I would recommend those two to anyone; My Fair Lazy is a good addition to her canon, and fans should definitely indulge in it. New readers might want to go back to the good stuff and then wait for Lancaster's upcoming novel to be released in May.

Also, a word of caution. I read this book in eBook format, and I wouldn't recommend doing that with Lancaster's books. Some of what makes them so incredibly funny is her footnotes. Each page has footnotes, and they are truly witty and clever. However, in eBook format, the footnotes are clickable rather than on the page. Each time you come to a footnote numeral, you click. Then wait. Then finally (several seconds), it takes you to a footnotes-only page. I often forgot which number I had clicked, then had to click back and forth to make sure the footnote I was reading coincided with the paragraph I was reading. And sometimes another once or twice to make sure I made the connection and got the joke. Not pleasant. (Not to mention I'm reading eBooks on an iPod touch, which means sometimes I clicked on the wrong number on the footnotes page and was sent somewhere else in the book when I tried to return to my reading.) I can't say I recommend reading her books in eBook format for this reason only. Julie at Book Hooked posted about this while I was reading My Fair Lazy and listed this exact annoyance in her review, also.

Overall, Lancaster is hilarious and I highly recommend her writing -- both in books and on her blog Jennsylvania. I can't wait to read her fiction debut in May; If You Were Here promises to be just as good as her previous nonfiction titles.

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