BOOK REVIEW: Official Book Club Selection

Posted on January 16, 2015


griffinOfficial Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin

Random House Publishing Group


ISBN 9780345518569


Some of my catch up reading over the holiday period included Official Book Club Selection; Memoir According to Kathy Griffin. And I am glad I finally got to it.

Kathy Griffin is one of those acerbic comics who doesn’t just push at the boundaries, she loves seeing how far they can stretch. Sometimes those boundary engagements can backfire or even bomb. But anyone has at least tried their hand at stand-up comedy has experienced that. And comedy can be very subjective.

The cult of the celebrity really infuriates me. That is probably why I like Griffin’s approach. She is part of the celebrity scene in her way but it is able to poke fun at it all and often viciously so. Poke fun? Perhaps I should have said tears bloody great holes in it while making us laugh like hell. And in a world where so-called A-Listers are increasingly A-Listers for no more reason than being famous for being famous, there is little shortage of material to work with. But even so there are some limits. When Anna Nicole Smith passed away, people expected Griffin to make even more fun with Smith but she didn’t.

Anna Nicole Smith exemplifies how I feel about boundaries, since she was a tabloid figure who was fun to razz until it clearly wasn’t fun anymore. When Anna Nicole had her reality show, she was the kind of loopy train wreck you couldn’t not talk about…. [But after Smith’s passing] I know you guys all want me to talk about Anna Nicole.” And there was a lot of clapping. I said, “Well , you know, I sort of knew her. We’re not going there. Okay, on to the next subject!”

Griffin doesn’t pull too many punches in describing things, including some hefty swings at herself and her mistakes. But there is one thing she is not apologetic for and that is for being herself. And if the celebrity world hasn’t already worked out that being a dick gives you a big chance of being lampooned by the mega-D-Lister, then more fool them.

Three things stood out for me in reading this memoir.

  1. Honesty

There are no apologies for Kathy Griffin being Kathy Griffin. She is who she is and she tells it like she sees it. Like the possibly peerless Joan Rivers, Griffin believes there is very little that is out of bounds of comedy – provided it is done comically.

  1. Hard Work

Nobody gave Griffin much career wise. She has had to work hard. Bloody hard. Frantic schedules. Taking work where and when she could get it. No studio executives suddenly deciding she was to be the next Hollywood mass-produced glamour queen. Griffin could have given up on things but instead stuck at it, ultimately finding her niche, getting to for a living what she loves to do. The good stuff that has come her way in later years has been a product of that head down, bum up, nose to the grindstone approach.

  1. Vulnerability

For all the sassy, in-your-face and out there, I am left with a sense that there is a lot more vulnerability beneath that public façade than Griffin is letting on. For example there is her eating disorder. I can relate to that to a degree as an early sign of my mental demons going wild is binging on junk. I think at times the book denigrates her more than Griffin needed to. Take for example her amused delight at suddenly finding her being classified as a ‘bbb’ – Banging Bikini Bod. Surely I’m not the only one who has thought she was pretty easy on the eyes from when most of us first saw her on Suddenly Susan?

I really enjoyed reading Official Book Club Selection. It is honest. At times stark. Staying true to herself, profanity included/ Gratitude for where she is. I feel rather inspired although I suspect no amount of working out or effort by the world’s best cosmetic surgeons is ever going to turn me into a Speedo Body Hunk. But we can dream…

Posted in: Review