Thursday, February 7, 2013

Audiobook Review: Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

Ali Wentworth is kind of one of those people who is famous for being around famous people.  I hate to say it that way because she is funny and she does have her own credentials, but the main things she is known for is being rich, being the daughter of Washington political big wigs, and being married to George Stephanopoulos.  Oh, and she was on In Living Color, which was before my time, but which is a legitimate credential.  This is a collection of essays about her and her life, and it's vaguely memoir-ish, but not chronological and not about anything really specific, so more just random funny stories of things that have happened to her.

Nothing great, nothing awful. I think she's largely funny and entertaining and when you're reading a celebrity memoir that's pretty much what you're looking for, right?

Entertainment Value
This is where things get somewhat dicey for me and I have to take away my full-fledged endorsement of the book.  I've talked in the past about not being easily annoyed by authors who mention being privileged (see my reviews for Joan Didions books).  Look, if you've got money and you're writing about your life, you can't help but write about having money.  Authors shouldn't have to pretend to be poor and if they're lucky enough to be incredibly well-connected and incredibly talented and incredibly wealthy, well, I'm not going to hold it against them, especially in a memoir.

However, I think if the author is going to try to use those aspects of life to achieve a humorous affect, the author needs to have a certain amount of self-awareness.   Like "haha, I'm rich and spoiled and I know I sound ridiculous talking about my family money pools".  If there isn't some kind of self-awareness of how fortunate you are, you just come across sounding spoiled.

A lot of these essays are just plain funny and don't cross into spoiled rotten territory.  I'd say the majority are a pleasurable and entertaining read.  But there are just a few where Wentworth talks about some things most people would consider amazing blessings in a way that makes her sound annoying.  In one essay she describes how annoying it is to take yearly vacations to tropical all inclusive resorts with her family.  Without a trace of irony.  Yeah.  It just kind of rubs the wrong way.  She can't help her privilege, but I think she'd be funnier if she showed a little more self-awareness.

The author narrates the audiobook and her voice is cute and perky and fun to listen to when she's not saying something obnoxious about the difficulties faced by the upper class.  Seriously, I'm not bitter at all that I don't get yearly trips to all-inclusives in exotic locales.  Really.  Not at all.

It's a fine diversion.  It's the equivalent of sitting down to watch a sitcom because you have half an hour till bedtime and you can't think of anything else to do.  In terms of quality reading, I could have spent my time better.  In terms of something to listen to in the car on the way to work, it was better than Top 40 radio.

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