London, Sphere, 2012, 304p
I love Tina Fey more than I love cheese. Now, you may not realise what a big deal this is for me. I do not say such things lightly. For me to love something more than I love cheese, it means that I could not live without it. Cheese is my favourite food group - you are never restricted by it, but can consume it all times of day and night, on or alongside all sorts of meals. There are very few things I love more than cheese, but I could not live in a world without Tina Fey.
And this is her autobiography, gifted to me by a friend who knows me a little to well, and read at least five times since, often whilst giggling to myself. Before you even start reading, you just need to take a glimpse at the blurb to realise how brilliant this is going to be:
See!?!"Once in a generation, a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her."
If you are already a fan of Tina Fey, you will love this. It is ridiculously funny, painfully intelligent, and of course, never particularly high brow. And if you have no idea who I am talking about (shame on you), you will find something in these pages of comedy writing that makes you feel uncharacteristically good about being you.
Somehow, Fey has managed to produce the least revealing autobiography in history. She talks about her childhood, her college years, and her honeymoon, but in a way that leaves you longing for more, wishing you could be her friend. She pokes fun at the tell-all, cliche-ridden biographies out there, unable to take seriously the task of writing her life story. She refuses
to wallow in the memories of her childhood, which she found to be particularly enjoyable. She was neither the lonely, geeky schoolgirl or the sex-crazed teenager. She never suffered from parental neglect or over-parenting. She is just herself.
And she makes it okay for her readers to be whoever they happen to be. In one chapter, she lists all the things that can apparently be wrong with a woman, but shifts the focus in a follow up list where she talks about the things she likes about herself. No self-pity, no plastic surgery woes, just the realities of life.
Fey also challenges the assumption that she has it all. In 30 Rock, Liz Lemon regularly dreams of having it all, but is stumped by a lack of boyfriend, lack of time, or simply lack of luck. Similarly, Fey rants about the impossible work-family balance, knowing how lucky she is to have a job she loves and a husband who supports her. But whilst at home, she is haunted by the work she has to do; and whilst at work, she wishes she was playing dress up with her daughter.
What I think I adore most about Fey is her ability to be sarcastically optimistic. By this, I mean that she never seems to be sad or bitter, but manages to perfect this matter-of-fact tones that implies that life is what it is, and sometimes, life sucks. She never raves about how lucky she is, or rants about how hard she has to work, but you can tell she is appreciative of all she has. She never claims it is easy being a woman in our contemporary society, but she still manages to quash any assumptions about modern woman you might have in the back of your mind. We are all different, and Tina Fey makes that okay.
This post is for Mr Christopher Mark Folwell, because those shoes are definitely bi-curious.