Original date of publication: 2010
My edition: 2010 (NAL)
Why I decided to read: Jen Lancaster is one of my favorite authors
How I acquired my copy: review copy from the publisher
I’ve been reading Jen Lancaster’s books for a while now—since after her second book, Bright Lights, Big Ass was published, actually—and she never fails to entertain her readers. I’ve been following her through her now-famous experience at losing her job and taking up temp work; bad neighbors; and her efforts at weight loss, and she’s truly not afraid to put herself out there. Her last book before this one wasn’t her best however, so I was pleased to discover that with My Fair Lazy, Jen Lancaster has returned to true form.
My Fair Lazy is a collection of essays about Lancaster’s addiction to reality TV and how she made a conscientious effort to change her habits by becoming more cultured-visiting the theatre, for example; or eating cuisine beyond her old standard of hamburgers, French fries, and orange soda; or reading (or rereading) the classics—there’s a hilarious bit in there that’s classic Jen, where she goes into a bookstore to try to find “a novel written by a woman whose initials are EW,” picking up a book by Edith Wharton, and realizing that she meant Evelyn Waugh instead! Then there are some very funny comparisons between Edith Wharton’s characters and the characters on Gossip Girl (not a reality show, but yes, there are a number of similarities between them now that I think about it). Each chapter has a title that's a twist on a certain reality show's title o catchphrase ("Outwit, Outlast, Outclassed," for example, or "The Biggest Winner"). And Lancaster's prose is littered with zingy references to various shows, although tat, of course, isn't the focus of the book.
There’s a fair amount of plugging here for her previous books, as well as many details about her writing the books and going on book tours; and there are a couple of factual errors (cycle thirteen of America's Next Top Model was the one with the petite girls, not cycle eleven). Also, the book dates easily, as Jen mentions seasons of various TV shows from a few years ago (e.g., Survivor: China). But other than that, I thought that this was a really strong, humorous book. I read very few memoirs, especially since many of them seem like navel-gazing most of the time; but Jen Lancaster’s books are the exception. She always manages to learn her lesson at hand with a certain about of humility—although, as she says herself, she’s perhaps not so skilled at filtering what she says. All the better for her readers, however, as Lancaster’s books never fail to be entertaining and insightful.