Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My review of Bitch is the New Black

I'm old, is the first thought I have reading Bitch is the New Black, the memoir by Helena Andrews. Like the spinster English teacher auntie that I almost am, I want Andrews to lighten up on the cussing and use of the word dude. And I cuss and say dude! Just...not so damn much. I feel like I did a few years ago when I turned down a job because I would have been in a department of young women who said Awesome! a thousand times a day. It would've taken about an awesome! minute before I hit one of them upside her awesome! head with my awesome! shoe.

But I kept reading and very soon I remembered what I was like in my late twenties: just as mixed up about life and love as Andrews, but not nearly as quippy or fabulous.

It's no wonder Shonda Rhimes, she of the "Seriously? Seriously." conversations on Grey's Anatomy became enamored with this book and decided to adapt it for film. Not only is the dialogue right up her alley, but the essays (and really this is a collection of creative essays rather than the long narrative one expects with the term memoir) are insightful and funny.

I laughed out loud at the part in which Andrews talks about admiring Lisa Nowak, the "crazy astronaut lady" who put on adult diapers to go have it out with the other woman:

"Anyone who'll drive countless hours with a carload of latex gloves, black wig, trench coat, drilling hammer, rubber tubing, and about $600 to 'talk' to the bitch who stole her man is a goddess among lesser women...

...sweet heavenly Jesus if we didn't know what it was like to be in the more than/less than emotional equation--who doesn't know what that's like? Stuck in that in-between place where nobody's happy, nobody's leaving, and everyone thinks you're settling. But as black women, we felt an even bigger gravitational pull toward the jerks who were at once unworthy and seemingly worthwhile (and I speak for all black women because I can). How many times had we convinced ourselves of someone else's potential while ignoring our own, giving each other great advice that we never follow (girl, he just might not be right for you)?

Crazy astronaut ladies and fabulous twenty-something black chicks are in the same spaceship: they're aliens among men blasting off to who knows where."

Andrews is black and black is in the title of the book, but at the risk of being stupidly obvious, I have to point out that 20-something and 30-something women, no matter what your race, will likely relate to her stories about finding her way in the world. (Very happy to see the book being included with reviews of funny books by white chicks! Go St. Petersburg Times!) And if you had a less-than-traditional upbringing (Andrews' mother is lesbian and likes to move a lot), like I did, you will relate even more.

But young women let me put in terms you might better understand: Dude, read this book. It's awesome! Seriously.


Dasaya Cates said...

Based on this, going to check it out.

Amy said...

I'm slightly kicking myself for not picking this up the other day. I almost did, but decided to be good and not buy anything that day. Silly me! It sounds great!

Diana Lee said...

Great review. This is totally going on my "to read" list.

DWJ said...

I had the total opposite reaction to this book and couldn't get into it. It made me feel old and I'm 31. Not my kind of thing.

Notorious Spinks said...

I saw this book and didn't know what to expect. I thought it was going to be some urban fiction junk but I'm glad you reviewed it. LOL! Thanks and I'll pick it up now.

Professor Tharps said...


Prolly won't read it, but Loved your review!

Jonathan Burkett said...

Wonderful review!