Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
Genre: memoir

During these tough economic times, it may be difficult for people to see humor in being unemployed. Jen Lancaster’s first published memoir, Bitter is the New Black, chronicles her career’s demise from on-the-fast-track to out-of-work loser-dom. Funny, sarcastic, and fully willing to be brutally honest about her narcissistic tendencies, Lancaster’s story is a quick read.

From the late 90’s to 2001, Lancaster worked in sales for a variety of companies in Chicago. Her work ethic is admirable, but she is very clear about her motivations for working so hard: shopping. She paints herself as a mouthy know-it-all who cares desperately about proving herself.

After September 11th, Lancaster is laid off and cannot find work. Her life quickly goes from fast-paced to pathetic. People who have recently been laid off may find her tales difficult to read, as she gets turned down job interview after interview, as she deals with Unemployment Office red tape, and as she gets evicted from her apartment. These accounts may ring too true for some readers.

For readers able to laugh at the desperate side of things, this book may serve as exactly the right catharsis. Lancaster’s humor is continuous. Her ability to mock herself will remind readers of authors like David Sedaris and Sloan Cassidy. And, readers will be happy to know that even though she did not find another position in sales, she became a successful, published author.

Her book is filled with quirky additions, like her footnotes. They are the gems of the book. One will be reading along, see a footnote, go to the bottom of the page, and see a witty little rejoinder, most inappropriate for this review. Highly enjoyable. Also, her letters at the beginning of each chapter give readers funny little snapshots of her world and its decline.

Recommendation: Recommended for those gainfully employed or those job-challenged with thick skins.

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