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Book Review – Bitter is the New Black

January 11, 2010

Bitter is the New Black

by Jen Lancaster

My husband thinks that I have a really strange sense of humor because I don’t find traditional humor very funny (this coming from a person who finds Mr. Bean and random British comedy shows hysterical).  He dragged me to a comedy club once but I didn’t find it very enjoyable.  I did laugh out of politeness because, well, my mom raised me right, and because I had to give kudos to the comedian…I mean who else is willing to climb up on a stage and subject themselves to an audience’s complete and utter rejection?  You couldn’t pay me enough to do that.

So I don’t find rehearsed jokes very amusing.  Or reading embarrassing stories about people.  Or Seinfeld (sorry).  Cartoons in the Sunday times?  The funnies are not funny.  And I detest America’s Funniest Home Videos.  No really I do.  Why do people laugh at other people getting smacked in the face with a bat?  How is getting hurt funny enough to merit a grand prize?  As an aside, I believe that laughing at another’s misfortune may just be what is wrong with America.

It is the stuff that nobody else finds comical that cracks me up.  Once my brother and I were at a fundraiser and during a speech an audience member sneezed loudly.  No, loud is an understatement.  I swear, it was the sneeze heard around the world.   It literally echoed.  But the funny thing was (pun intended) that as the echoes reverberated nobody else was doubled over with laughter except my brother and I.  Everyone was staring at us trying to figure out what was so funny.  Needless to say we sobered up pretty quickly.

As a sarcastic person myself, I also find sarcasm extremely humorous.  If you read my blog at all you already know that I love to utilize sarcasm to make the unfunny funny.  (If you didn’t know that and read regularly then I am really not doing a very good job on this blog, am I?)  Anyway, apart from myself and a few other people I’ve met along the way, author Jen Lancaster is one of the most sarcastic people I have ever come across and hence one of the funniest. 

Bitter is the New Black is the autobiography of an extremely spoiled, elitist Vice President at Corp.com (love her generalizations in this book) who unexpectedly gets laid off during the tough economic times that follow 9/11.   This book chronicles her descent from a high-flying executive earning $250,000 a year to someone who can’t even score a temp position for which she is completely over qualified.  Despite her perseverance she remains unemployed for 22 months and as a result, she and her boyfriend Fletch find themselves moving out of their unaffordable Chicago loft and into a  far less desirable neighborhood.  They can’t afford their groceries, health insurance, or medicine, and Jen’s attempts at finding employment are rebuffed at every opportunity.

One wouldn’t think that a book based on the struggle to find employment could be an enjoyable read, but because Jen Lancaster does not mince words and speaks from the heart no matter how shallow it makes her seem, she manages to do the impossible. What made me love the author was the fact that she never once gave up or felt sorry for herself. Faced with her circumstances, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be as motivated as her. 

Though crass and arrogant at times, I think that everyone can find a little bit of themselves in the author.  The truth is, there is a moral to this story for all of us.  Especially during the current economic crisis.  Who isn’t guilty of materialism at one point or another?  Who doesn’t splurge on a Prada bag or justify $300 highlights on occasion?  Who doesn’t  take their financial status for granted, never thinking it could unexpectedly be taken away from them?  Through her wit, brutal honesty, elitist remarks, and unique footnotes, Jen somehow manages to endear herself to her reader all the while reminding us to appreciate what is really important in life. 

To sum it up, allow me to give you the full title of this book: Bitter is the New Black – Confessions of a condescending, egomaniacal, self-centered, smart-ass, or why you should never carry a Prada Bag to the unemployment office

How can you not want to read it now?

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 3:23 am

    You make that book sound so endearing! I agree with what you say about the “rehearsed jokes. “Something is truly funny when it hits you in the face when you least expect it. That’s why I don’t particularly enjoy comedy shows too. What’s it with those canned laughter in the background? It’s as if the shows producers are trying to tell us when to laugh, or worse, legitimizing laughter. So…fake.

  2. January 12, 2010 5:35 am

    Great review Ameena. I read “Such a pretty Fat” by that author last winter…but I am not sure if I even finished it…there was something about it that i was bored with..which is weird, cause usually i can tolerate that stuff…but not so…i don’t know, there was actually something about HER that i didnt like….maybe i was jealous of her writing life 🙂
    nice review though….and gasp..dont like seinfeld? but that is not “comedy”..that has some pretty genius moments…the irony in situations…the character of George alone…relatable in ways…i encourage u to actually watch it through and through…good stuff 🙂

  3. January 12, 2010 5:45 am

    I enjoyed reading that book 🙂

  4. Danielle permalink
    January 12, 2010 5:53 am

    Great book review- it makes me want to check it out 🙂
    I also find sarcasm and strange things humorous. I’m kind of with you on Seinfeld- it’s only sometimes funny

  5. January 12, 2010 6:09 am

    Thanks for the book review! I’ll check it out!

  6. January 12, 2010 7:05 am

    Loved your post! I now have that book on my list of books to read. I agree.. I see people at work that complain about now having money to take their kid to the dr or eat healtheir than they do but get their nails done regularly and carry a coach purse… Come on now.. really!

  7. January 12, 2010 7:57 am

    another amazing book review!
    and i picked up on your sarcasm the moment I met you! LOVE IT.

    (as a former sarcastic person myself, I learned it is anger disguised as humor and it was my favorite weapon of choice for a lot of years …UNTIL my Teenager picked up the habit and now I cringe when I hear him use it….so I work on it in myself.)

    but it still makes me laugh and like you, I don’t seem to find humor in things others do. I am more of an eye roller myself. haha

    my favorite comediean is ME. I crack my self up so I really don’t need comedy!

    i can’t remember the last time i read a book for fun but you are making me want to go book shopping.
    have a great day

  8. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce permalink
    January 12, 2010 9:08 am

    ooh i want to check out this book! i love your sense of humor. it’s the little bits of dry sarcasm you toss in there that give your writing such an edge :). I HATE seinfeld too, thank god i’m not the only one (though it feels that way sometimes!)

  9. January 12, 2010 9:36 am

    Thanks for the book tip. I am always looking for cool stuff to read.
    I have an unusual sense of humor too. I only laugh at jokes that are super sick. I am a bit of an Eric Cartman, if he were a housewife, that is. Also I like kind of lame jokes too. But I am not into the comedies on tv.

  10. January 12, 2010 10:04 am

    I love your book reviews. I’ll have to add this to my “to-read” list!

  11. January 12, 2010 10:45 am

    Thanks for the review! I’d love to read it as soon as I get through some reading for work.

  12. whydeprive permalink
    January 12, 2010 10:57 am

    This is next on my to read list. I read Such a Pretty Fat and pretty much laughed the whole way through, and heard that this is WAY better!
    Thanks for doing this review, now Im even more excited!!

  13. January 12, 2010 12:15 pm

    So I am the one person that does not get jokes- it’s not that I don’t think they are funny. I don’t understand them at all!

    I heart bb too! It was fun meeting him!

  14. louisianagrown permalink
    January 12, 2010 12:33 pm

    I am SUCH a sarcastic person and find sarcasm soooo funny. My friends and have a huge problem when it comes to laughing at inappropriate things. But hey, we have a good time and that’s all that matters, right?

  15. January 12, 2010 1:37 pm

    This book sounds so great. Thanks so much for sharing it. (Gonna hit up Barnes and Noble soon=) I have kind of an offbeat sense of humor too. Im so glad too Im not the only one who doesnt find Seinfeld funny! lol. I cant stand watching it and my hubs thinks its the funniest show in the world. I dont get it. Aahh well. To each his own, right? Anyways have a lovely day sweetie!

  16. January 12, 2010 1:56 pm

    Thanks for the review!

  17. January 12, 2010 2:52 pm

    Ooo! That really sounds good. I will have to see if it is in the library. I love that she sets her books in Chicago. I feel like I can relate so much more!

    I hate that people laugh so much at other’s misfortune. I wish people could be more happy and supportive of one another. That sounds really wishy washy, but I have certain people in mind 😉

  18. January 12, 2010 4:04 pm

    Sounds like the sort of juiciness I like to read! I agree with you though- I do not find America’s Funniest Home videos funny either- just rather stupid…I also didn’t find a lot of supposed “OMG SO HILARIOUS” movies that funny either (Superbad, Borat, Bruno, etc)
    Looking forward to getting a hold of this book…if it has the word Prada in the title, I know it’s gotta be worth reading 😉

  19. January 13, 2010 9:17 am

    This Ozarks farm chick loves a dose of sarcastic humor , I’m strange that way. I think I’d like to read the book.

    Ya’ll have a super blessed day!!!

  20. April 6, 2010 7:36 am

    replica handbags is a great issue right now, i mean,most of the people really want a luxuary handbag but they cant really afford it,so there is an alternative for them and its a replica,those that can afford it im sure that they will buy the real one so i dont really think that it will ruin the big companies market.

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  22. September 20, 2014 7:53 am

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