Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Review)

I was not abused, abandoned, or locked up as a child...I am not a misunderstood genius, a former child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity. I am not a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, or recovered anything... I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story.

So goes the Forward to Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. You could call the book an extra-long lyric essay, or an unconventional memoir. As is not difficult to assume from the title, it's a compilation of encyclopedia-like entries of Rosenthal's life, relating to the reader everything from her childhood memories to how she enjoys cleaning her ears with Q-tips. It's funny and endearing. It's easy to relate to and discusses some of the little moments in life people don't often talk about. It shows that the little idiosyncrasies of strangers can be interesting, and catalogs some of those odd serendipitous moments in life we all experience.
This book is like having a conversation with a friend, and Rosenthal encourages a feeling of community by asking for interactions from the readers. On page 101 Rosenthal says she dislikes fictional descriptions of moons, but invites the reader to send her good descriptions of moons, which she posts on her website. She mailed a homemade pie to the one hundredth reader to reply to such a prompt.
As I began reading the encyclopedia, I thought it was witty and brilliant. But it can be tedious; I sometimes felt impatient. Some sections lack a depth that I would appreciate. It being an encyclopedia of Rosenthal herself, it's quite self-involved. This can be annoying.

Conclusion: Worth reading, but best to consume in moderation, like candy.

1 comment:

  1. Orange pumpkin marshmallow is nothing like this book.