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"Bossypants" A One-Woman Show OF AWESOME

I know this is going to sound hugely corny, but I didn't have much of a sense of Tina Fey as a person before I read (actually, listened to the audio book of) her new book Bossypants. But it felt like reading a memoir written by a close friend.

I was continually struck by Fey's gift for relentlessly accurate self-reflection. Like the way she describes her primary symptom of anxiety as being "the feeling that my heart has shriveled up like a raisin." Although in an odd way, her ability to chronicle the minutia of life makes it hard to relate to the concept of Tina Fey as a driven, anxiety-ridden, over-scheduled producer. Although clearly she was and is. But the contrast often seemed jarring.

I should caveat that I'm not sure I would have liked this book as much if I had read it myself. Tina Fey reads her own audio book, and she does a better job at it than any other author I have ever heard. She does such a good job that clearly no one else could have hoped to equal her performance. And I have a feeling that includes the voice inside your head that you hear when you read for yourself. I often found myself thinking "This wouldn't be nearly as funny if Tina Fey wasn't reading it." She does an amazing job, and I highly recommend the audio book over the paper version.

Tina Fey is a feminist from way back, and she waves the feminist flag proudly. How refreshing to find a public figure not afraid to use "the F word." She has a lot of interesting and deeply-held positions on feminist theory and practice, and these passages are what really made the book for me. She not only has a lot of personal experience (as an improv comic, as the boss of SNL, and as the creator of 30 Rock), she has also obviously spent a lot of time grappling with larger issues. Her observations on the not-so-latent feminism which came to the fore in the 2008 election (re: Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin) were worth the price of admission alone.

In one of the passages I found more contentious, Fey tackles the issue of misogyny in the workplace. Her advice is "Find a neutral proving ground, then own it." For example if you are in car sales, focus on the sales tote board, and crush your male competitors there. In other words, combat sexism by being so good at what you do that your coworkers have no choice but to accept and respect you as an equal.

This strikes me as the sort of advice that is awesome if you are (e.g.) Tina Fey: a person who is tremendously good at what she does, an overachiever who is driven beyond reason to succeed, and in a fairly privileged situation. This advice wouldn't help (e.g.) a Walmart stock clerk faced with institutionalized pay disparity.

And surely there is feminist help for the B and C students of the world?

In other words, it isn't BAD advice. In fact, it's a pretty good coping strategy if you are in a situation where it is implementable. That is how I would frame it: as one of many possible coping strategies. Another coping strategy being - like the women of Walmart - to file a class-action lawsuit.

But hey, I feel pretty churlish quibbling with advice that encourages women to work hard and succeed, so I'm going to stop now. I enjoyed this book so much that I deliberately listened to it in small doses, so that it would last longer. Now that I am finished with it, I am sad. Moar pleez?