Tina Fey’s new book Bossypants comes out this week and it’s generally well liked with a couple of caveats. The consensus is that it isn’t exactly a memoir but that’s ok since it is still a good read and quite funny.
Here’s a sampling of the reviews:
Time: You’re Not the Boss of Her: Tina Fey’s New Memoir
Bossypants” is uneven and jagged in a way you might expect from one practiced in sketch comedy and sitcoms, but it’s also loaded with personality, insights into power and the kind of humor that can cause beverages to travel through the reader’s nasal passages unplanned. It’s not a traditional memoir, though it’s presented in chronological chapters, beginning in childhood and ending with Fey at 40, debating whether she should pause in her success to have a second child. It hovers in the territory of Nora Ephron or David Sedaris, and while Fey is not nearly as fluid as those masters of the heartfelt and hilarious personal essay, you sense her warming to the form.
The Daily Beast/Newsweek: What’s Tina Hiding?
Fey treats Bossypants as an extension of her television alter ego. Edging up to difficult truths and skipping away may make for sophisticated sitcoms, but it doesn’t make for satisfying memoir writing. The most successful autobiographies demand a certain amount of psychic heavy lifting, risk taking, and interrogation of one’s ideas; Fey will have none of it, which contributes to the nagging feeling that, despite her prodigious talents, she can be a little too clever by half.
The LA Times: The Saturday Read
Fey has a great sense of pace and timing — longer, weightier chapters dealing with her profession and her career are balanced with short pieces on being fat and being thin and some responses to evil email — and a love of language that echoes early Nora Ephron and, before that, the marvelous Jean Kerr. In her own way, Fey has been doing this all her life. She is a physical personal essayist in that her writing and performing all stem from what she thinks about the experiences she has had. The seams that hold “Bossypants” together are her experiences specifically as a woman; although she is far from heavy-handed, Fey is matter-of-fact about the double standard to which women are still held. That some found her impersonation of Palin “ungracious” is, to her mind, the perfect example: Palin, she argues, is not fragile and she, Fey, is not mean.
“Bossypants” isn’t a memoir. It’s a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation.
Regardless of whether you think Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, has an off-putting cover or title, regardless of whether you think it merited not one but two New Yorker excerpts, as if it were a long lost early manuscript of Lolita in which Humbert and Lo live happily ever after—you will have to concede that it offers a valuable insight into navigating gender politics.