My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

September 11, 2009

my-horizontal-life Summary: Chelsea Handler’s 2005 memoir My Horizontal Life gives readers a candid look at the sexual exploits of the comedienne’s mid- to late-twenties. Handler is very open about the fact that she likes sex and enjoys the company of males. She doesn’t care if a full relationship follows; one-night stands are perfectly fine to her way of thinking. As long as Chelsea gets what she wants, she doesn’t concern herself with what happens next.

The book, which is supposed to be nonfiction, mostly details the memorable-in-a-bad-way encounters Chelsea had, first as a teen in Jersey, then as a twenty-something in southern California. The author is actually rather good-looking, so she usually attracts some pretty hot men. Unfortunately, a handsome face and chiseled physique don’t always add up to a good time — particularly when the guy is barely legal, is into spanking, and is the lead dancer in a cheesy cruise boat show.

Along with various encounters with different men, Handler also introduces readers to some of her friends. Most notable among these was a roommate that Handler referred to as Dumb Dumb because of her extreme naivete, childlike behavior (the woman wore Sponge Bob and other cartoon character pajamas), affinity for reality television, reliance on Acneticin for her problem skin, penchant for calling her father over the slightest problem, and most of all, her intact virginity at the ripe old age of 28. Handler tries to make Dumb Dumb sound annoying, but honestly, out of the two of them, I’d rather be friends with Dumb Dumb.

The book doesn’t have much of a point, as Chelsea doesn’t grow or change in any way from the beginning of the narration to the end. This was more of a “slice of life” read than anything else, which, judging from the book’s bestselling status, I guess has an audience. It wasn’t for me, though.


  • Some of Chelsea’s anecdotes were pretty funny, and I laughed several times throughout the book. It’s not easy telling these types of stories in an entertaining way, so I’ve got to give her credit for that.
  • Dumb Dumb was a good character. At first it seemed like Ivory would get most of the attention in the book, but I’m glad Chelsea went with Dumb Dumb. She was so much more interesting!


  • The first chapter that talked about how Chelsea’s sister dared her to walk in on their parents while they were having sex went on far too long. It wasn’t funny enough to warrant that many pages, and really got the book off to a slow start.
  • The Nathan chapters were boring as well. All the stuff he did at Chelsea’s sister’s wedding seemed made up. Are people really that selfish, clueless, rude, and crude? Really?
  • Chelsea came off as a bitch on numerous occasions in this book. Yeah, not everyone is a saint, but she seems like someone I wouldn’t want to know in real life. What’s amazing is that this was an autobiography, not a slam job by some tabloid reporter. Perhaps she thought she was being “self-deprecating” in her descriptions. Whatever the case, I couldn’t become invested in her enough to actually care what was happening most of the time.

My Rating:

With a title like My Horizontal Life, you’d expect there to be a lot more talk about what went on in the bedroom. I don’t mean p.0.r.n. of course, but most of these anecdotes focus on the pick-ups or the shenanigans the morning after. It’s something you’d expect from a sorority girl rather than a grown woman. I give this book 2 stars out of 5.

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