Tag Archives: Not For Everyone

“Based On A True Story: A Memoir” by Norm Macdonald

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
“Based On A True Story:  A Memoir” by Norm MacdonaldBased on a True Story by Norm Macdonald
Published by Random House Publishing Group on September 20th 2016
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Entertainment & Performing Arts, General, Humor, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 256
Wild, dangerous, and flat-out unbelievable, here is the incredible memoir of the actor, gambler, raconteur, SNL veteran, and one of the best stand-up comedians of all time.   As this book’s title suggests, Norm Macdonald tells the story of his life—more or less—from his origins on a farm in the-back-of-beyond Canada and an epically disastrous appearance on Star Search to his account of auditioning for Lorne Michaels and his memorable run as the anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live—until he was fired because a corporate executive didn’t think he was funny. But Based on a True Story is much more than a memoir; it’s the hilarious, inspired epic of Norm’s life.

In dispatches from a road trip to Las Vegas (part of a plan hatched to regain the fortune he’d lost to sports betting and other vices) with his sidekick and enabler, Adam Eget, Norm recounts the milestone moments, the regrets, the love affairs, the times fortune smiled on his life, and the times it refused to smile. As the clock ticks down, Norm’s debt reaches record heights, and he must find a way to evade the hefty price that’s been placed on his head by one of the most dangerous loan sharks in the country.   As a comedy legend should, Norm peppers these pages with classic jokes and fondly mythologized Hollywood stories. This wildly adventurous, totally original, and absurdly funny saga turns the conventional “comic’s memoir” on its head and gives the reader an exclusive pass into the mad, glorious mind of Norm Macdonald.

Whenever I get into a romance reading slump, I turn to non-fiction to keep me going until I’m ready to dive back into reviewing. But as James Frey taught us (and Oprah) not that long ago, a memoir can be just as much fiction as fact, and should never be confused with autobiography. It was with that mindset that I happily dove into Norm Macdonald’s new memoir, one with the intentionally deceptive title of “Based On A True Story.” It begins with a disclaimer that every potential reader should keep in mind for what it does and does not reveal:

The stories in this memoir begin with the author’s recollection of events, which is – by his own admission – spotty. Beyond that, several names and identifying details have been changed.

Ninety-nine percent of “Based On A True Story” is exactly what you might expect from Norm Macdonald, which is to say it’s hilarious obscene bunkum. One should never try to analyze any memoir for what really happened and what is at best the writer’s embellishment, but I think it’s safe to assume that Lorne Michaels did not hire Norm for his ability to procure morphine and that Norm did not borrow a million dollars in cash from a fat man with artificial hair in the Nevada desert. I’ll also point out that the running joke of the purported protestations of Norm’s supposed ghostwriter is not only nonsense, but detracts from the joy of unfiltered Norm nonsense.

And yet…

There are some small but significant portions of this book that came as searingly close to real truth as one is ever likely to read in any memoir. For me those made the whole book a more valuable and memorable read than what I got from all the rest. They include both the introduction (“Found Alive in a Hotel Room in Edmonton”) and “The Final Chapter” (which it both is and isn’t). But the key chapters – the ones that kept me up nights – were the ones ostensibly about Norm’s childhood.

The first of these chapters starts simply enough, with Norm as narrator realizing that he needs to keep his friend awake as they speed towards Las Vegas for an as yet unrevealed mission. The initial feeling is one of obligatory exposition, since anyone would expect a memoir to mention the writer’s point of origin and how it shaped him. I was lulled into a sense of security by the beautiful way Norm describes himself as a small child on his family farm in the wilds of Canada and his stories of the old drifter who slept in a toolshed and worked for free because it was enough for him.

Then just when I was expecting the inevitable hilarity to ensue, Norm the narrator sprung the trap he’d set in plain sight and I gasped. Stephen King would be proud of how this bucolic tale suddenly became terrifying. Only this wasn’t fiction. Or was it? The opacity of the memoir format foils any attempt at fact checking, and for once, I am glad.

I see the cat, who’s licking himself and swatting horseflies with his tail as he lies beneath an improbably large maple tree that is blighted and dying. I look up the tree and see there is something up high too, hiding in one of the crooks of its reaching branches. Something that is watching.

And the back of my head hits the headrest as I see that the thing in the tree is me.

So even if memoirs aren’t your thing or Norm Macdonald isn’t your thing or reading a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and Mark Twain isn’t your thing, please consider “Based On A True Story” solely on chapters three through six. They’re worth your time and money.


Review: Beauty’s Kingdom by Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Beauty’s Kingdom by Anne Rice, writing as A.N. RoquelaureBeauty's Kingdom by A. N. RoquelaureAnne Rice
Published by VIKING on April 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
The erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy now continues with a fourth novel by master storyteller and bestselling author of Prince Lestat, Anne Rice, writing as A. N. Roquelaure   Mega-bestselling author Annie Rice returns to where she left off in Beauty’s Release with the disappearance of Queen Eleanor in Bellavalten. Now, twenty years after they were forced to leave the kingdom to return to their homeland, Beauty and her husband Laurent agree to travel back as its king and queen, to uphold the ways of complete sensual surrender, with a twist: they now insist on voluntary servitude in Bellavalten.   Countless eager princes, princesses, lords, ladies, and common folk journey to Beauty’s new kingdom where she and her husband awaken their domain, ushering in a new era of desire, longing, and sexual ecstasy. Provocative and stirring, Rice’s imaginative retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth will be hailed by her longtime fans and new readers of erotica just discovering the novels. This book is intended for mature audiences.

BEAUTY’S KINGDOM is the surprise addition to the infamous Sleeping Beauty trilogy written by Anne Rice under a pseudonym over thirty years ago. In the history of erotic literature, the Beauty books hold a special place of honor and with good cause. From THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, through BEAUTY’S PUNISHMENT, and ending with BEAUTY’S RELEASE, we see the innocent sheltered heroine both figuratively and literally awakened to a whole new sensual world neither she nor we thought existed. Each book goes deeper in and further out so that by the time Princess Beauty finds her Happy Ever After with the powerful Prince Laurent, the reader can’t help but be as changed by the experience as its titular character.

But now it’s twenty years later in Beauty’s world, and the domain where she discovered both her true nature and her true love is in danger of collapse. The task ahead is great, and it will take the help of friends both old and new to secure their beloved land’s future. All this and more is the story of how Queen Eleanor’s kingdom is transformed into Beauty’s kingdom.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed reading BEAUTY’S KINGDOM even half as much as I’ve loved the original trilogy. But it became clear to me early on that this book was trying to hook new readers unfamiliar with the previous books while still servicing existing fans by bringing back nearly every named character from the original kingdom. The result is a story that falls down in the two areas where the original books excelled, namely exposition and pacing. It wasn’t wonderful and it wasn’t terrible. It was just…there.

In the original trilogy, the story is focused on Beauty herself, and to some extent, the people with whom she comes in contact on her voyage to self-discovery and love. We are given just enough information about where Beauty is and why it matters, leaving the rest for our own imaginations to run wild. But in BEAUTY’S KINGDOM, everything is laid out for the reader in such meticulous detail that it soon becomes a struggle just to absorb everything without losing track of wherever the plot is supposed to be going.

Thanks to all the catching up on what happened since the last book and all the details involved in Beauty and Laurent deciding to accept the throne, it takes seven long chapters – nearly a third of the book – before we actually get to Beauty’s kingdom. Before then, it’s pages and pages of “and then this happened” with name checks for all the original characters in the kingdom, even those who’d just been mentioned briefly in the earlier books, and for me it was easily the most deadly dull part of the whole book. By the time we finally arrive nine months and a hundred pages later, all I could picture was that scene in Monty Python And The Holy Grail where everyone is yelling “Get on with it!”

The most disappointing thing for me about BEAUTY’S KINGDOM was how little we get of Beauty or Laurent’s points of view once they are established as the new rulers. Most of the book is about how Lady Eva kept the kingdom traditions going in the absence of its previous rulers and then how each of Beauty and Laurent’s fellow pleasure slaves from twenty years ago return to take control over various areas of activity in support of the new regime. There are a few chapters here and there featuring “volunteers” in the new and improved pleasure slave experience, and those were the stories that kept me reading when I was tempted to give up. But for someone whose name is in the title of the book, Beauty herself gets precious little time in BEAUTY’S KINGDOM, and the book suffers in her absence.

Yet all could have been forgiven if the ending of BEAUTY’S KINGDOM was worth the work to get there. The other characters constantly refer to some terrible secret involving Lexius, the mysterious Sultan’s servant who’d been mastered by Laurent back in the third book, but when both he and it are subsequently revealed, I didn’t know whether to be amused or appalled. Meanwhile in the few glimpses we get of Beauty herself, we can see she’s still not fully content with her role in the new kingdom despite all the public credit given to her. Up until the very last scene, I was holding out hope that the parallels drawn between her and the pitiable Sir Stephen were hinting at an updated happy ending for her. But like so much of what preceded it, what is intended as Beauty’s ultimate triumph fell flat for me. By then, I was happier to be done with the story than with what I got at the end.

In conclusion, for me BEAUTY’S KINGDOM was as overstuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey, and just as lifeless. I’m not sorry i read BEAUTY’S KINGDOM. I’m only sorry it wasn’t better.

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