Comedienne delves into her past to amuse and instruct
“Writing a book and putting my own words into the world is terrifying in the very way that performing in front of a camera will never be,” writes Anna Faris. Like other funny ladies before her, Faris blends experience with humor to create her first book, Unqualified.
In many ways, Faris should be terrified. Fame can be a liability to memoirists. Chris Pratt, her estranged husband, is mentioned frequently, as is their marriage, why it works, and how they overcome their insecurities. It is unfortunate that news of her separation came out a few months before publication because people are going to tear this apart to try and find answers instead of appreciating the stories being told.
Anyone reading this to dissect it for answers to the end of her marriage will be missing the big picture: Anna Faris is a successful woman who has a great career, has loved deeply, and cherishes her family and friends.
Throughout the book, readers will find out that despite being “unqualified” to give advice, Faris does it anyway. Stories of her poor choices in love, a few cringeworthy moments during her career, and that awkward anecdote about going to her high school reunion make you want to shake her and say, “Stop caring what people think! Make good life choices, past Anna!” Ultimately, she does just that, and in doing so, becomes qualified to impart some wisdom.
Faris is at her best when she is talking about her family and career. She makes it sound like she lucked out at the beginning, but the hard work needed to cultivate a successful career does not go unnoticed. The story about the birth of her son, Jack, is heartbreaking and moving. The glimpses into her childhood are completely relatable. From not needing a training bra as a girl (but wearing one anyway) to being afraid to go to school in an outfit her mother made her wear, readers will laugh and say, “This is my life.”
Listeners of her podcast are brought into this book as well. Faris polled her listeners and published their thoughts. Interviews between her co-host and friend, Sim Sarna, Pratt, and various podcast features are interspersed throughout her writing. It’s filler that is sweet, but it becomes a little tedious at times.
At the end of her book, Faris writes, “If writing a book about yourself is completely natural and easy and you don’t have a moment where you wonder, Why would anyone care?, then you’ve drunk way too much of your own Kool-Aid.” Full of self-deprecation and humor, Anna Faris dumps the Kool-Aid and proves that we’re all “unqualified.”
Gregg Shapiro is the author of Fifty Degrees (Seven Kitchens, 2016), selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. Other books by Shapiro include the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe Press, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), the chapbook GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012), and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008).
He has work forthcoming in the anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.
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