rating: 3 of 5 stars
Everything about this book is clever, starting with the title. To any Judy Blume fan, the parody is obvious, but even the less-informed reader (to whom I will now impart the title of Blume’s novel, Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret) would find this title an apt one. Are you there Vodka? chronicles Chelsea Handler’s sexual antics across all realms, from weddings, to summer flings, to family vacations, and while the men (and midgets…) vary widely, one factor remains constant: her drink of choice, vodka.
Handler’s writing is self-mocking, but in a comically arrogant sort of way. Her manner reminds me of the way men boast to one another in such hyperbolic terms that each man knows the other cannot be serious and probably, in fact, believe the exact opposite about themselves, compared to what they are saying. Still, their claims become increasingly more broad and bombastic, as if needing to declare, “yes I did!” and “yes I am!”
Dry humor is the saving grace of this sort of comedic writing, because without it, Handler’s tales would come off as absurd and callous. Readers would feel inclined to chastise her reprehensible behavior, because superficially, it truly is the way mothers most fear their daughters will act in their teens and twenties and even early thirties. Instead, Handler is witty and self-mocking enough to make you spend most of the book wondering how much of each story is true and how much she is over exaggerating for effect. This guessing game turns into the compounding “oh my god, no she didn’t!” reaction you experience when your girlfriend tells you about “what a wild weekend she had.” Except according to this book, Handler doesn’t have wild weekends; she has a wild life.
Blume fans, don’t try this book unless you transitioned to at least the level of the Sweet Valley Twins series in later adolescence. Otherwise, you may suffer from painful finger-wagging and irrepressible groaning.
Bridget Jones’s Diary fans, read on. And try Handler’s My Horizontal Life, too.
Those in between…read at your own risk. If you believe you may harbor puritan strains deep in your heart, I will warn you that you may not find Handler’s humor funny. But if you have a repressed wild side, following Handler’s antics is one of the best ways to live vicariously.
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