Since my week-long sojourn into the life of character actress Mary Wickes was such an overwhelming success, I've decided to make famed comedienne Joan Rivers my next subject! Since Joan absolutely adored Thanksgiving, I decided to christen this week JOAN RIVERS WEEK on my blog! November 21st through 25th we'll be exploring five surprise facets of Ms. Rivers thrilling personality.
In today's blog, I am going to examine the literary output of Miss Joan Rivers. Rivers was a prolific author and staked her claim in just about every genre of book imaginable for an entertainer. Though they are the focus of this particular blog, Rivers didn't limit herself to writing books. She wrote for the movies (Rabbit Test, The Girl Most Likely To...), television (That Show, Candid Camera), as well as her own stand-up material.
This blog is not meant to be all-encompassing or extremely detailed, mind you. For each selection, I'll give you the title, a brief synopsis, and my opinion on it!
So, without further ado, let's plummet into The Literary Output of Miss Joan Rivers, Authoress Extraordinaire!
Title: Having a Baby can be a Scream! (1974)
Synopsis: Joan catalogs the good, the bad, and the ugly of having children in a light-hearted humor book.
"Steven's Say": The book isn't Dostoyevsky, but it most certainly resonates with my own cynical view of children (which falls somewhere between Paul Lynde and Miss Hannigan in Annie.) Rivers pokes fun at the conception, birth, and everything in between which her trademark biting wit. God forbid Melissa ever read this book, she'd have a fit.
Title: The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz (1984)
Synopsis: Joan's illustrated and irreverent biography of the world's most famous tramp, Heidi Abromowitz.
"Steven's Say": An alternate subtitle for this book could be How Many Slut Jokes Can I Fit in Under 100 Pages? Though Rivers shoots off a few good one-liners, the humor of this book is often drawn-out and repetitive. There's only so many "She had sex with everyone on the football team" jokes before you start to tune out. Thankfully, the book is comprised of half illustrations by James Sherman, which helps to plug the tedious holes the narrative leaves in its wake.
Title: Enter Talking (1986)
Synopsis: Joan's first autobiography, which chronicles her birth through her success on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
"Steven's Say": Though this very serious and thoughtful book can be accused of being dry at times, almost certainly because it was written with the help of ghostwriter Richard Meryman watering down Rivers' acerbic personality. The book is incredibly thorough and frank, though Rivers does embellish the true a bit, including giving herself a stage kiss with an unknown Barbra Streisand in an off-broadway play. It may take a bit to slog through this book but, as a whole, it's a serious, entertaining self-portrait.
Title: Still Talking (1991)
Synopsis: Joan's follow-up to Enter Talking, in which she chronicles her life after the last book up until 1991.
"Steven's Say": Much has happened to our heroine since the last book, including her failed Fox TV show, which led to the suicide of her husband, Edgar Rosenberg. This tome is ghostwritten with the same collaborator, yet this time more of the Joan Rivers we all know and love it allowed to shine. Considerably most fast-paced and action-packed, this was truly a second memoir that needed to be written.
Title: Jewelry by Joan Rivers (1995)
Synopsis: Joan Rivers talks about Jewelry.
"Steven's Say": The synopsis says pretty much all that needs to be said. That being, the pictures are gorgeous (and that counts for something, right?)
Title: Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything ... and I Mean Everything ... and You Can Too! (1997)
Synopsis: Rivers' self-help book on dealing with life and all its clever machinations.
"Steven's Say": This is, in my opinion, Rivers' most effective volume. The prose is clear, the humor is abundant, and the advice she gives is actually easily applicable to the average, everyday mortal. I've read this book quite a few times when I'm down and it never fails to make me more hopeful. Take a few hours out of your day and smile with Joan, I dare ya!
Title: From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts and Advice on Life, Love and Marriage (1998)
Synopsis: Joan's "love letter" to her daughter Melissa and from mothers to daughters everywhere
"Steven's Say": I'm not one for these sappy books, so the effectiveness of this tome is lost on me. I'm sure it's a beautiful little gift to give your mother, but other than that, it's simply a dead weight.
Title: Don't Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit! (1999)
Synopsis: A witty and irreverent look at aging.
"Steven's Say": I've always loved books like this, which have been written by comedians like Phyllis Diller, George Burns, and Milton Berle, to name just a few. I love spending a light afternoon listening to these icons kvetch about all the aches and pains every golden-ager is subjected to after a certain age. Rivers is a consummate kvetcher and this book is an absolute delight.
Title: Murder at the Academy Awards: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery (2009)
Synopsis: A delightful and fast-paced Murder, She Wrote type mystery novel.
"Steven's Say": Joan Rivers' casts her and Melissa into a red-carpet themed murder mystery with an enjoyable cast of Hollywood types. If you don't go into this book expecting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you'll be pleasantly surprised by Rivers' grasp of plot and the eccentricities of the individuals who populate this story. My only wish is that she had written more than just this one outing.
Title: Men Are Stupid...And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery (2009)
Synopsis: Rivers' love letter to plastic surgery.
"Steven's Say": Like Phyllis Diller before her, Rivers was a passionate advocate of elective surgery. She saw an image of what she wanted to look like and worked all of her life to achieve it. Not only is she frank about all of her own personal experiences in this book, but it also serves as a fascinating primer and "behind the scenes" look at the ins and outs of plastic surgery. Well, cut me open and take out my grits, this book is wonderful!
Title: I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me .(2012)
Synopsis: A book cataloging everyone and everything Miss Rivers loathes, from babies to Barbra Streisand.
"Steven's Say": Mean-spirited, vicious, and salacious, this is just the kind of book I adore above all others. Listening to Joan bitch for a few hours has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and this book has that in spades. This book isn't for the faint of her and will not be making its way into any church book clubs. Then again, I don't think Rivers would want to be associated with something as banal as that, of course!
Title: Diary of a Mad Diva (2014)
Synopsis: Rivers' last book, a humorous year in the life of an icon.
"Steven's Say": Modeled as a diary, this book is one rip-roaring farce. Like the last one, Rivers takes a no-holds-barred look at celebrity culture, family, and everything in-between. Racy, cloying, and vicious, this book is like a piranha waiting for the kill.
And as a fitting epliogue to this little romp down literary row, have this picture of dumb hipsters protesting Rivers wearing fur on the cover of her Diva book:
*I invite you to continue to join me this entire week (November 21st-25th) for a Thanksgiving Celebration of The Life of Joan Rivers!*
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