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(#91) Book Review: Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler is back with a third collection of stories about her crazy life.  These stories run the gamut from her weird youth to her even weird family to the nasty pranks she likes to play on her friends.  As each story seems to get crazier and even more ludicrous, Handler still manages to top it with the next.  Anecdotes from her life continue to entertain in this collection of conversational essays.

The problem with Handler’s third collection of essays about her life is that the joke is starting to wear thin.  Whereas Handler’s first two books were very funny and seemed generally focused, this one feels rushed, a little forced, and completely disjointed.  There’s no cohesive feeling to this one, and when I read about the fact that Handler has talked openly about how hard this one was to write and how much she hated doing it, it made sense.  There’s an undercurrent of resentment running through this one, and it made for a rather unpleasant reading experience.

That’s not to say that there aren’t moments where Handler is particularly funny or on-point.  The early parts of the book are its strongest moments, including the story about how Handler discovered masturbation as a child & the story about the day she stayed in bed and watched the Sex & the City movie twice in a row.  These bits give way to meandering stories about vacations with her friends and elaborate pranks she’s played on employees, and it is here that I started to get uncomfortable as a reader.  Not only were the stories overly-long to the point where I wondered where it was all going, but some of them were so mean-spirited that I no longer felt comfortable reading about her exploits.

Some readers have taken issue with what they think is Handler’s tendency to grossly exaggerate her stories.  This makes some people question the legitimacy and veracity of the stories Handler weaves, but that isn’t my issue.  Handler is a comedian; exaggeration is comedy’s bread and butter.  My issue lies with the fact that in this third book, Handler is not very funny, nor is she very unique.  This book read like a woman who has run out of good stories and resents the fact that she’s expected to keep coming up with stuff.  Give this one a pass and revisit one of Handler’s first two collections.

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler.  Grand Central Publishing: 2010.  Borrowed on Kindle.


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