I, CALIFORNIA by Stacey Grenrock Woods

I, CALIFORNIA

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Star-hungry child of the ’70s becomes semi-actress and occasional writer in this thickly barbed autobiography.

Blame Augusten Burroughs. Or the torrent of childhood-obsessed irony that was the ’90s. In any case, accounts of youth during the Ford/Carter years must now come packed with eye-rolling details of the horrors of macramé, cringe-inducing crafts and Peter Frampton. Fortunately, in the hands of a well-honed satirist like the multi-syllabic author, such ironizing is done with sharp intent, mocking the memoirist herself as much as it does the decade. An inveterate self-dramatist from the bucolic streets of Sherman Oaks (“a progressive little settlement nuzzled on the graceful shoulder blade of Beverly Hills”), Woods was taking dancing and acting lessons almost before she knew who Frampton was. She transitioned from precocious wannabe actress to bright-eyed college student to sampler of LA’s finer hair-metal bands to drug dropout to almost-Playmate to Daily Show correspondent, occasional sitcom actress and Esquire columnist. Fortunately for readers, almost none of this is delivered in the expected manner, as the author is too busy firing off dense packets of self-lacerating and penetrating absurdity to get mired in solipsism. The structure takes some getting used to, delving heavily into selected portions of the author’s busy life—work as booker for Johnny Depp's Viper Room, a reporting trip for the Daily Show that became an exercise in self-loathing—before leaping lightly ahead, often years at a time. Her prose is carefully considered and nicely layered with multiple levels of irony (as befits any casualty of the ’90s): A complete emotional meltdown is always lurking just behind the waves of cultural zeitgeist humor.

Sunny heartbreak, with sarcasm that draws blood.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7432-7491-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2007




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