Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns
Full disclosure: I didn’t read this book. I listened to it on CD in my car while driving back and forth to work and to a freelance gig. And while there is much debate about whether or not audiobooks should count as reading, I think the format actually worked very well in this case. I got to hear Kaling read her own words in her own voice, much the way I imagine she’d sound if we were just chatting — though her “list” pieces may have worked better in book form.
Still. The book is sort of a memoir and sort of not. I’m not really sure what to call it — Kaling says it’s a series of short essays on her life and other “list-type pieces” such as a recitation of things that make her cry and things stylists try to make her wear. She talks about her childhood, about how she came up in comedy, how she started working at The Office, and how she is different from her character, Kelly Kipoor.
It does seem a little disjointed, but I think that’s because of the episodic nature of the stories. They start in roughly chronological order, but, when she reaches the present, it kind of turns into a ramble, like…like you’re on the phone with your best friend and suddenly the conversation has gone on too long and you’re both running out of material. If I was reading this book, I would have gone through it so fast that this wouldn’t have mattered, but in audiobook form, it was harder.
Still. I ended this book feeling like I’d just spent several hours with Mindy Kaling, which was delightful. She is insightful and smart and funny, and since she read her own book, I felt there was some added value from her acting, eliminating ambiguity in meaning.Even B. J. Novak got in on it. And I learned something! I had no idea that the executive producer for The Office created King of the Hill. I feel more culturally aware already.
If I had one criticism, it’s that I’m not sure what the goal was. Was it meant to entertain? Wreak revenge on those who have wronged Mindy Kaling? (If so, too bad she wrote it before that guy thought she was Malala.) Provide a road map for young women who are funny/big boned/smart/Indian and want to make it in comedy or screenwriting? To build the Mindy Kaling brand? I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but I wish it had had more direction. Though maybe I’m missing the point.