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Books: Friday Reads, Jill Kargman

New Books: Friday Reads. Book Reviews.
Jill Kargman: Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut
Harper Collins/William Morrow
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A twitter stream whizzed by in Heraclite-ian (if that’s a word) fashion last week, annointing momzilla chicklit author Jill Kargman “the next David Sedaris,” on the occasion of the publication of her new book of essays and observations, Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations.

(She is also the author of Wolves in Chic Clothing: A Novel; Arm Candy; The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund: A Novel along with the 2007 release Momzillas: It’s a jungle out there on Park Avenue, baby!).

Primarily beloved by sarcastic moms for her fiction, the new work is a slim, pocket-sized collection of essays that at times feel more like a collection of blogs or facebook posts that have been wrestled into essay format.

Since Heraclitus’s twitter stream never passed back by, it’s hard to imagine what the case for the comparison was. Except in size, the book has nothing in common with the work of David Sedaris.

He’s funny and she’s funny, but that’s it. He’s Greek; she’s Jewish. He’s gay; she’s straight. (Though she titles a chapter, “I am a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.”) She’s a married mom; he and life-partner Hugh have no children. She writes a lot about her vagina; he never does. She gets a chapter out of skin cancer; he gets one out of a boil on his butt (that Hugh must lance). She has a tattoo and a gun. He, presumably, has neither.

That kind of comparison is the refuge of a lazy critic: “here, you like to read books. And this person has written one.”

So here’s another lazy, but more accurate, reference: if you liked Sarah Silverman’s memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee (now in paperback), you might like Jill Kargman. Both are heavy on the scatology and too-much-information. There are also shades of Diablo Cody in tone, with a bit of a structural nod to Sloane Crosley’s funny but uneven collection from last summer How Did You Get This Number.

Kargman’s glossaries have some potential for clever (“spitzering = bangin hos, Oh, sorry, ‘courtesans.'”), but some expressions are already ancient and felt dated even when people first began to use them in conversation (tramp stamp?, or even older, “People who use summer as a verb.”) While “spitzering” might catch on, let’s hope “godfathering” never does (filed under the aforementioned too-much-information).

She has enough material (a real life MadMen-dad, prep school, kids, cancer, New York real estate) to write a memoir, but the snippets of chapters feel more like blog entries that are trying too hard to get into and out of the punchline quickly. Devices that might work once in one blog post (“CUT TO….” and “you can’t make up that shit”) wear thin fast in print.

Proclaiming her hatred of Nellie Oleson (Chapter 2, Section 2) doesn’t really add anything to the discussion of the Little House genre (who didn’t grow up wanting to beat Nellie to death?). Hating Mary? Now that might be a chapter. Carrie? Even better.

Hopefully, her next book will be a memoir. There are glimpses of smart and clever storytelling here. But until then, you can follow her here, Jill Kargman on Twitter (and connect to her tumblr, also entertaining).

Ace Book Club: Reading List


Brooke Berman’s No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments
Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number
Sarah Silverman’s The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee