2015: Funny Girl


Funny Girl, Nick Hornby

I am a Nick Hornby fan - read all his books (well, except for Fever Pitch - there are limits for the non-sporting), bought his collected Believer columns from McSweeney's - saw the movies - read the books he recommended (at least few, anyway!).  I'm too lazy to dig through the archives to proove it, but believe me.  I like how he's allowed to write funny books about regular people's problems, and he does it well.  He can turn a phrase and tug an emotion, and manages to do it without you feeling like the books are junk.  Just to give you a sense of why I grabbed this off the shelf like it was hotcakes.

And, I was not disappointed! (HA! this isn't where you thought that was going).  This is just is great as his other stuff.  It reminds me of the move he wrote (An Education, starring Carey Mulligan), in that it's about a girl growing up in the 1960's, instead of being about a man-child in the present day.  I obviously wasn't alive in that time period, but this feels pretty authentic - particularly in the way that the main character wasn't immediately all go-go Carnaby Street swinging LSD whatever, but was, rather a regular person who happened to become famous - while still retaining her good girl roots.  It felt more authentic than a book where they're running around immediately saying groovy and such.   The story is about Barbara, a zaftig blonde who wins a Miss Blackpool beauty contest, but really wants to make people laugh.  She falls in with a a group making a sitcom at the Beeb, and they become something remarkable - a family.  That sounds cheesy written out, but it's great - you get the sense of what it was like to be on the vanguard of TV production, and they tease out how it's both art and commerce, and Barbara (who is quickly renamed Sally) is trying to figure out how to be famous and be a real person at the same time.  I loved it, and if you like Hornby I think you will too.  (It would, of course, make a pretty good move or T.V. show.).

My only complaint is with the TERRIBLE title.  How can you call something Funny Girl? And name the main character Barbara? Is it is supposed to be a joke? Omar Sharif must be rolling in his grave.  Seriously, great book, dumb title.



© Carrie Dunsmore 2017