Friday, 14 September 2012

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

First released: 1st November 2011
By: Random House Audio

Audiobook length: 4 hr and 37 min
Narrator: Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck-impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence "Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I'll shut up about it?"

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you've come to the right book, mostly!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door - not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

My review:

Mindy Kaling sure knows her audience. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (yeah, I'm gonna have to abbreviate that title) starts with a FAQ where one of the questions is "Why isn't this book more like Bossypants?". I, and I'm sure many others, gave Kaling's book a try primarily because I enjoyed Bossypants so much and wanted to hear from another funny female. Kaling says upfront that her book isn't and can't be Bossypants.

And it isn't, but Is Everyone...? is still quite enjoyable in its own right. It's a short listen, and is an entertaining and diverting way to lighten up an afternoon. The best part is the first half, where Kaling talks us through her childhood and teen years, in which she was chubby, dateless and lame. It's a familiar refrain from comedians that they were geeky outsiders in high school, but that doesn't make Kaling's stories any less amusing and I chuckled many times.

It's also very interesting to hear about her road to becoming a TV writer. The behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into making a show is fascinating to me and Kaling's story about her first failed sitcom, Mindy and Brenda, really exposes a lot of the frustrating and downright offensive stuff that goes down (Kaling was essentially told she was too fat and dark-skinned to play herself).

However, once Kaling gets to the part where she's firmly ensconced in her role as a writer and recurring character on The Office, Is Everyone...? runs out of steam. Kaling's only thirty and even with keeping the book as short as it is, she doesn't have enough of her life and career behind her to fill the whole thing. The last third of Is Everyone...? is a hodgepodge of essays, in subjects as disparate as her ten favourite comedic moments in film, and her bizarre revenge fantasies for hypothetical slights. There are funny moments, but you do feel like Kaling is throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to stretch things out.

I enjoyed Kaling's narration. Comedians are the best people to read their own writing - they know what timing and emphasis they want on the jokes. Kaling's voice is famously that of a very nasally Valley Girl, which is annoying to some ears, but it fits her personality and I can't imagine her words said any other way.

Overall this audiobook is fun, but not a must-listen. It'd be a good listen while you do some necessary chores and Kaling is likeable enough that you won't mind hanging out with her.

Rating: 3 stars

1 comment:

  1. This review, basically perfectly sums up my feelings on this book!

    Marlene Detierro (Tony Lama Cowboy Boots)


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