Uneven memoir by a sitcom writer who survived a series of personal tragedies.
Witty but depression-prone Cohen was thrilled to land a gig on the staff of Manhattan-based Spin City, although she eventually likened the job to “a dysfunctional family Thanksgiving…a group of people are crammed around a table, yelling over one another while eating to the point of discomfort.” Then, in quick succession, Cohen was fired from her dream job, her beloved mother died of cancer and her boyfriend dumped her. Grief manifested itself as a disfiguring facial rash so severe that she was sequestered in her apartment for nearly a year, unable to endure humidity and restricted to a bland diet. Suddenly, without explanation, the memoir moves on to show Cohen teaching spinning classes at her local gym and cautiously dating a TV reporter. Too much is left unexplained: Why was she fired, and why didn’t she pursue other television jobs? How was her medical condition resolved, and was it truly psychosomatic? And why, since her boyfriend was such a jerk, was she unable to move on some two years after the breakup? “I liked to consider myself a late bloomer, meaning someone who would eventually, however late, come into bloom,” Cohen writes. “Although when and if I would bloom remained a mystery.” Fortunately, she eventually did flower, tackling bike riding and tennis lessons with equal parts terror and bravado, and beginning a new career as a dating columnist. When, at 39, she finally met “William” (he requested a pseudonym), the two instantly connected and quickly became engaged. Although the relationship dissolved when William’s father died and he returned to California to work through his grief, this time Cohen retained her equilibrium.
Frequently sharp and funny, but Cohen veers so often between comedy and despair that the effect is disorienting.