Norm MacDonald: Based on a True Story

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at a truly unique read, an autobiography that contains almost no factual information about the author itself, but instead takes you on a bizarre journey of degradation and humour. I am talking about Norm MacDonald: Based on a True Story.

There are a couple of hurdles you will need to jump through before tackling this book. First of all, do you know who Canadian comedian Norm MacDonald is?

Norm MacDonald is known as a Comedian’s comedian. He is beloved by Louis C.K, who has written the introduction to the book, as well as by Jerry Seinfeld, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. His humour is dry and drawling. He’s as laid back as you can get. He is not for everyone, and some don’t find him funny at all, but for me, the more you watch him, the funnier he gets. He has developed a very strong, somewhat cult following, as fans don’t just like him, they love him!

You may know him as one of the previous newsreaders for Saturday Night Live or for his movie Dirty Work. You may be vaguely aware of him from his cameos in various Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider movies. He also has his own podcast called Norm Macdonald Live. If it’s still not ringing any bells then I suggest hitting up good old Youtube and checking out his stand up, then watch the podcast, where he interviews famous comedians. The podcast, I should point out, contains some filthy, filthy language and good grief, if you watch the one with Gilbert Godfried…..

If you already are a big fan, or you become one after checking out his stuff, then this book is 100% a must read. Don’t read anymore of this review, just go and buy it right now. If you haven’t watched the podcast yet, then you should do that first to get the most out of it. If you’re not a fan, or are not converted, then don’t bother getting the book. It’s that simple- this book is for fans of Norm’s work, and they will love every page.

If you have watched the podcast, you will be familiar with his sidekick Adam Eget. He is a lowly servant, a holocaust denier, and a degenerate sex worker. He features heavily in the book, and if your opinion of him wasn’t already low enough, this tale serves nothing to improve his image. This “autobiography” discusses Norm’s early years, then takes you on a journey as Norm and Adam Eget travel to Vegas to play a high stakes game to resolve some serious gambling debts. It also chronicles Norm’s disputes with his downtrodden ghost writer.

It is a very, very funny book. It is an easy read, which I finished over two nights, in three hour sessions. There is almost no truth whatsoever in it from Norm’s life, and Norm has admitted in interviews that he “tricked” publishers into letting him write a story by pretending it would be an autobiography. It does however feature Canada, where he is from, discusses gambling, which he has a real life problem with, and talks a little about his work on Saturday Night Live, which he did do. Other than that, well just don’t trust anything…

The good news, for the Norm fans that will inevitably love this book, is that Norm has said he’s going to write a few more.

This is just the beginning…

Happy Reading from The Boss Book Club!

Fates & Furies

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at one of the most beautifully written, astounding pieces of writing I’ve had the chance to enjoy at the tail end of last year- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

I found this book by doing some research of the best novels of 2015. Fates and Furies was featured on multiple top ten lists around the place, and was even chosen by President Obama as his favourite book of the year. I figured, well if it’s good enough for the now former President, it’s good enough for me!

You shouldn’t be deceived by the topic of this book. The topic is marriage. A man named Lotto and a woman named Mathilde get married after only two weeks of dating, and this book tells about their marriage, from beginning to end, from both points of view. It sounds simple, it may sound boring- not your kind of thing- but I promise, if you are interested in the psychology of a person, interested in how two different people can think, feel and live, and the memories that shape their behaviour today, you will find no better book to explore that in than this.

Lauren’s work is incredible. These two central characters are so well written the experience is liking jumping into someone else’s mind completely. I’ve never read character work done so well. Both Mathilde and Lotto have their flaws, their talents, and of course, their secrets. This book is as much about what they share together in their marriage as what they hide, and there is certainly plenty of dramatic elements that push the story along- career highs and lows, money ups and downs, personal crises, and plenty of sex. This book tells the life of two people, in the moments together and apart, in a level of detail you won’t have experienced before.

Lauren’s writing style is easy to read and intimate. It is written in second person viewpoint, but Lauren has included little asides, written in brackets, that give the objective truth of the situation. Like this:

“The author of the Boss Book Club is thinking about eating a salad [She will back out and find her stash of stale Kit Kats].”

Except Lauren does it much better, about more interesting topics, such as what Lotto and Mathilde cannot see objectively about themselves or each other.

I thoroughly recommend this book for absolutely all adults. It will take you into a story of marriage, of personal growth, of truth and lies, that is detailed beyond belief, and never fails to be engaging. If you are a writer, it will show you character work done to perfection. If you are married, it will leave you thinking about a lot of things about yourself and your partner, and what makes a successful relationship. In terms of weaknesses, I would say that I found the first half of the book much more realistic and relatable than the second half. I feel that Lauren undoes some of her hard work in the second half by including a few melodramatic elements which I think cheapen the story a little.

I’ve left this review as vague as I can because it’s truly worth experiencing it for yourself.

 

Now, I’m going to go make myself a salad!

 

Happy Reading and thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

 

American Gods

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be having a look at Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

My husband is a big fan of the actor Ian McShane, and when he found out he’d been cast in a television series based on a novel, he went and bought the book for me to read. Since he bought the book I have seen Neil Gaiman everywhere, from other bloggers singing his praises, to a friend at work toting his collection of short stories. The British author is popular and, as I’ve found out, this is with good reason!

American Gods tells us the story of Shadow, a man recently released from prison who finds himself, after a sudden unexpected tragedy, on a trip home with nothing to look forward to. He then meets the mysterious and mischievous man who goes by the name of Mister Wednesday, who hires him to be his personal bodyguard.

And so begins a journey across America, a great big road trip. The only difference is, it’s to meet and greet the ancient Gods who have settled in America. It’s a mythical story which puts into modern times how old Gods would survive in modern USA. From driving taxis to working as prostitutes, the Gods that used to be so powerful have to scrape together a living, and Shadow is exposed to what life is like for these immortal creatures. There are also new Gods, Gods that people worship in this day and age- for example the God of technology- and there is a war brewing between the old and new, with potentially dangerous results.

You may think a book containing so many mythologies would be a difficult read, but it isn’t. The story is engaging and fast moving as Shadow moves with Mister Wednesday from town to town. Gaiman has obviously done a lot of research into the belief systems of a variety of cultures both within and outside of America, and he retells many old folktales in interesting ways. The main characters, Shadow and Mister Wednesday are both very likeable, and Mister Wednesday I’m sure, with his dry humour and shameless antics, will be a favourite character for many.

This novel provides food for thought in terms of what the modern person believes in, and what we think is important to us. It also will make you think about how our current beliefs fit within a history full of a huge variety of cultures, mythologies and stories to make sense of the world.

I found this novel to be engaging throughout, with a wide variety of fascinating, funny, bizarre and dark God characters to be met along the way. If you’ve got too much on your plate already, I’m sure the television series, due in 2017, will be great as the story would lend itself wonderfully to the screen.

I recommend this book for fans of American history, folklores and cultural legends, as well as those who like road trips and adventures. You will have a very enjoyable time.

 

Happy Reading Bosses!

 

Moby Dick

Hello Everyone!

Thanks for joining us today at The Boss Book Club!

The Boss Book Club has been in hiatus over the past few months, but a lot of reading has been done in that time. To celebrate the return, over the next five days will be five book reviews- to catch up on what we’ve missed!

Today, the classic American novel Moby Dick.

I’ve attempted to read Moby Dick approximately 4 times over the past five years, each time giving up after the first 50 pages, overwhelmed by the old-style language or the sheer size of the thing. This time I persisted and pushed on, and I’m very grateful I did.

If you’re yet to read the classic but have been tempted to, it’s certainly worth your time. Written by Herman Melville in 1851, the story gives you an immersive look at the life of a whaleman in the 1800s, where great ships would head out to find and slaughter the sperm whale in order to collect and harvest the oil- which was predominantly used to light lamps across the country.

The story is told in first person narrative by Ishmael, a somewhat experienced seaman (don’t you giggle) but a first time whaler. This book shows you the perils and dangers of whaling from his point of view, as well as captures the sense of excitement and comradery that goes along with voyages that could last years.

The other central character is that of Ahab, the ship’s captain, a psychologically tormented man, whose motives in the voyage are entirely centred around the capture of one particular whale- the legendary Moby Dick.

There are many reasons why this book has been given its rightful status as a classic. For me, it shows me everything there is to know about what the whaling life was like. Herman explains everything about the experience in amazing detail, from what the ships were like, to the customs and traditions shipmen had, to the type of equipment they used- even how they would rig and cut the whale. It shows me a life I would never have known about- being a landlubber myself. It does, however, go into lengthy details of what a whale looks like, which I’m sure in its time would have been wonderfully informative, but can be a little dry in the reading now.

The other thoroughly enjoyable element of this book is Ahab, the dark, brooding Captain, and the book explores many religious, philosophical and psychological themes regarding his and Ishmael’s journey as characters.

Many schools and Universities over the years have included this book on the read list as the book is rich in religious and social metaphors and analogies. It reflects the development of America and man’s relationship with himself and God. You can read as much or as little into this novel as you like and I’m sure repeat readings would offer something new each time.

On a final note, if like me you struggle somewhat to get through classic novels, I have a good tip. Each time you start a reading session, start with one chapter of a classic, followed by whatever other novel you like. I found this helped me focus on the chapter I was reading, and after you’re half way through you’ll find it much easier to plough through and finish it!

 

Happy Reading everyone, see you tomorrow for a review of Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

 

 

 

Life Story

Hello Everyone and welcome back to the Boss Book Club!

Today I am going to review a beautiful book called Life Story, which is an accompaniment to the BBC television series of the same name. This is a visually impressive book that will make an excellent gift for any animal lover (or for your good self of course!)

The television series this book is based on is a large-scale nature documentary. The filming of Life Story was certainly an impressive fete, it took over two and a half years to film across 29 countries, and during that time the BBC was able to capture over 1,800 hours of footage. Needless to say, they were able to capture some amazing photographs, and the still photography is what features largely in this book.

The concept behind the book and series is to show the journey of various animals, from birth to reproduction of the next generation, and every struggle, conflict, decision and journey in between. The chapters in this book are named as such: First Steps, Growing Up, Home, Power, Courtship, and Parenthood, with a final chapter dedicated to the making of the series.

Did you know that when a male lion takes over a pride they will often kill all the cubs from any previous males? And that only approximately 20% of cubs make it beyond 2 years old? Or that the females synchronize their reproduction so they all produce a litter at the same time? Maybe you’re a lot smarter than me and already knew that, but I sure didn’t. Now look at me go!

There are over 50 different animals featured in this book. Each animal gets between a 2 and 6 page write up, with lots of beautiful photographs (usually including a double page spread) for each one. The information is interesting and easy to digest. I read the book by focusing on an animal a day, which was easily achievable in 5- 10 minutes of reading a night. However, I can see some nature lovers easily pouring hours into this book and reading it all in one go. They will also be pleased to see a foreword by the great naturalist himself, David Attenborough. If you have seen the series, the ‘making of’chapter provides some fascinating insights into the challenges of capturing wildlife behaviour.

The greatest strength of this book for me is that it demonstrates how life is a struggle for all species on earth. It throws into light the fight for survival, the elaborate lengths animals go to in order to find a mate or protect their young, the ingenious and difficult things animals go through to better their chances at continuing their bloodline. It makes you appreciate the wide and diverse world out there and reminds you that humans aren’t the only ones with daily obstacles to overcome. The study of nature helps us take the focus away from ourselves and appreciate what else is happening in the world, and this book, with it’s beautiful photographs and variety of experience, makes it a wonderful journey.

 

Happy Reading and welcome to The Boss Book Club!

 

Got an interesting animal fact? Read any other great nature books? Let me know in the comments below!

Hello world!

Hello and welcome to The Boss Book Club! This is a community for anyone and everyone who loves to hide away with a great book! This blog will feature a weekly review on what’s good to pick up next time you’re looking for a good read.

My first challenge is going to be reading the entire DiscWorld series by Terry Pratchett. I am completely new to Pratchett and am really excited to dig into what I know is a very popular and well loved series.

My name is Bec and I will be your companion on this journey! If you have any questions or suggestions for what should be reviewed next, please contact me on thebossbookclub@gmail.com

Happy reading, and remember, you’re the boss!