Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

May 26, 2010

Summary: This is a book I selected because of its place on the New York Times Bestseller list, where it has appeared, disappeared, and reappeared ever since its hardcover release in 2008. I do not watch Chelsea Handler’s show, but I was curious about why her books do so well. I previously read My Horizontal Life, and thought it was just ok, so I wasn’t expecting all that much from this one.

But I was surprised by Are You There, Vodka? It contains many of the ultra-ridiculous situations that Handler is known for, and provides a decent amount of laughs for as short as the essays are. Some of my favorites included Prison Break, where Chelsea spends a night in L.A. County lockup for getting a DUI; Re-Gift, where Chelsea’s roommate forces a group of friends to attend a birthday party for a friendless woman that they barely know; Big Red, which details Chelsea’s attempt to date a man with shockingly orange hair (ordinarily a deal-breaker); and Chelsea in Charge, which tells of how she made a ton of money as a babysitter on Martha’s Vineyard one summer despite the kooky clientele.

Not every essay was a hit, however. The ones I neglected to mention (there are 12 total in the book) were either boring, unfunny, or just ok. Fortunately, even with the rather boring stories, Chelsea’s writing style is such that it was easy to breeze through them to get to the next one. I don’t think I was ever in danger of putting this book down and not finishing it, which is certainly a testament to her likability.

Liked:

  • Handler certainly has a talent for relating stories in a very humorous way. She sounds like your best friend telling you what happened over the weekend or whatever, which is the perfect tone for these types of stories. Most of them were at least enjoyable to read, even when the stories themselves or the punchlines weren’t that great.
  • I like how straightforward Chelsea is, even about highly personal situations. The Big Red essay comes to mind, as she candidly talked about how the guy’s orange afro bothered her, but she kept going out with him because of his…size. And I loved how outraged she was that he was breaking up with her, because he thought she was taking the relationship so seriously — and all the while she had a naked guy under her bed! Ha!
  • I like how Chelsea doesn’t obsess too much about her own looks or clothes in these essays. She just accepts that she’s hot and leaves it at that. There’s no false modesty about having a bad hair day or needing to swallow Lipofuze by the fistful in order to lose weight. I’ve read similar books where the equally hot women “agonize” over their looks, and let me tell ya, that gets old pretty fast.

Disliked:

  • The only things I really disliked about this book was the chapter on Mini-Me and the stories about Chelsea’s father. First, I just don’t understand her obsession with midgets, so I couldn’t get into the Mini-Me swindler at all. Second, the father is not funny to me, just creepy.
  • Oh, I thought of another thing I didn’t like: the interminable lie she told to that couple at the fish ‘n’ chips restaurant. Are there really people who pile one implausible lie atop another like that when there’s absolutely no reason to do so? That seemed a bit far-fetched.

Rating:

On the whole, I thought Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler was a very good collection of personal essays. The writing is wonderful (not in a strictly “literary” sense, but in a personal way) and the stories are entertaining more often than not. This book was a fun read, so I give it 4 stars out of 5.

2 Responses to “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea”

  1. I love Chelsea Handler and her books! I got a chance to meet her at a book signing for this book. Personally, I LOVE her father as a “character” in her books. You’ll see even more of him in Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang so either you should avoid that one or read it in the hopes of enjoying him a little more the second time around.

  2. Ugh, I just got that for my Kindle, so I’m not thrilled to hear that the father is featured so prominently. Oh, well… maybe I’ll try looking at him a little differently in this one!

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