Tag Archives: Pretty in Plaid

Review: Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

plaid1Title: Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase

Author: Jen Lancaster

Genre: Nonfiction Memoir/Essay; 384 pages

Publication Date:  May 5, 2009

Publisher: National American Library (NAL)

Rating: 4 Bookmarks

If you’re anything like me, you have a Santa Claus-sized ledger in which you record book titles that other bloggers recommend.  If this is the case, please add Jen Lancaster’s Pretty in Plaid to the top of the ‘Nice’ list. 

Lancaster has been likened to “David Sedaris with pearls and a supercute handbag”, and her latest memoir weaves a hilarious retrospective highlighting fashion highs and lows over the last four decades.  Entire essays are devoted to size-5 Jordache jeans, odious Brownie uniforms, and the edgier Girl Scout uniforms.  (I donned both and can attest to the faux pas that was the Brownie Beanie.)

Lancaster takes the mundane and spins it into a giant, literary confection of equal parts humor, hubris, and habiliment.  This book should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning printed on it–Reading this book should be done only in private and may induce:

  • laughing until your mascara runs down your face in twin, black rivers
  • laughing until you snort (Swine flu be damned!)
  • laughing yourself into a wheezy, cartoonish fit
  • laughing yourself into hyperventilation (as your husband frantically dials 9-1-1 for help)

Maybe you’re in need of a good laugh or you’ve been meaning to pick up some nonfiction for a reading challenge–either way, here’s the perfect vehicle!

Lest you think I’m being paid to write such a glowing review, I will say that the book starts off with a few missives I wasn’t barking mad about. Additionally, the footnotes may get a bit tedious for some readers–having to glance down two or three times on one page–but beyond those minor quibbles, this book has already become one of my favorites.

You can catch Jen on her nation-wide book tour, kicking off tomorrow.  She’ll be in New York on Thursday and I hope to be there (with pearls on).  Thanks to Kate and Melissa for the galley!

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Tears On My Pillow (and Pages)

Thanks to the creative writing (and wild imagination) of James Frey (and a few others), the memoir genre has been forever tainted.  Despite the scandals, I remain an unflagging and vocal supporter of nonfiction essays and memoirs.  Some of my favorite authors exclusively pen nonfiction–Bill Bryson and Jen Lancaster to name just two. 

Why do I love these authors so much?  Their writing can, in a single paragraph (or sentence), reduce me to silent, body-shaking laughter.  Or obnoxious, snorting laughter.  Or wheezing, cartoonish, Muttley laughter.  Or I-can’t-catch-my-breath AND I’m crying laughter.

Last night, I was cuddled up in bed whipping through Jen Lancaster’s new book, Pretty in Plaid, which is  due out May 4th–so be on the lookout for my review!  At one point, page 292 to be precise, her writing pushed me over the precipice.  I was ‘silent-laughing’ to the point that I couldn’t catch my breath.  My husband grabbed the phone to dial 9-1-1 because he thought I was having a seizure–that’s how hard I was shaking and crying with laughter.

In case you don’t believe me, after I calmed down (20 minutes later), I snapped a picture with my phone (thus explaining the fabulous quality of the picture!).  I submit Exhibit A. as proof to why YOU should be reading nonfiction:

tears-on-my-pillowYes, friends, that’s an actual tear.  And it was not alone.  There was an entire parade of them streaming down my cheeks.  So, if you have given up on the nonfiction genre, I beseech you to reconsider.  Just look at the hilarity you’re missing!