Amy Poehler's Yes Please is Pretty Fantastic, Y'all
I have a weird relationship with celebrity-penned books. I loved Mindy Kaling's book and cannot wait for her follow-up, out next year. I really loved Esther Williams' memoir, Million Dollar Mermaid. But, I haven't been a fan of many others. (Including the one written by the female comedian that everyone but me adores.)
However, I do love Amy Poehler.
I can tell you my very clear memory of first being exposed to her: It was the late-1990s and I was still able to stay up and watch late night television and she played Andy Richter's Conan-obsessed little sister and it was bonkers. I'm certain I'd never seen anyone quite like her before. When she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, I even managed to stay up and watch her quite a bit.
Obviously, I love Parks & Recreation, the television show she stars in, and not just because it's basically a biopic about my time working for a parks department, but because Amy & Co are so flipping hilarious, but never mean--just the humor I love.
So, despite my reticence about celebrity-penned books, I snagged Amy's Yes Please on a recent trip to Costco. (What? You don't buy books at Costco? All the cool kids do. Or so I tell myself.)
Yes, Please is less memoir and more memoiric (not a real word, FYI) scrapbook combining essays, lists, advice and photographs.
It's a bit meandering and thematically messy, but in a way that clicked with me. If I remember correctly, the criticism of Mindy Kaling's book was similar, and I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I like this approach for memoirs more than the straight autobiographical format.
It's interesting to me that some major media reviews lingered on the notion that Amy talks "a lot" about her divorce from Will Arnett and her new relationship with comedian Nick Kroll. I'm certain that Kroll isn't mentioned by name outside the acknowledgments and the limited about of time spent on Arnett is mostly in a general sense about how much divorce sucks and graciously about him as a father to their two sons.
Honestly, Louis C.K. talks much more about his relationships in his everyday comedy bits than Amy does in Yes Please. But I guess because he's a dude it's "profound" (disclosure: I hate the public's clamoring over every single one of that man's pithy, simplistic rants). It's interesting to me that there's an assumption that a lady-penned book will focus on romantic relationships, even when the reality is something else. (Even though romantic relationships are actually really important in people's lives and mainstream media portrays this subject as trivial or lesser.) But I digress...
What Poehler's book really focuses on is The Work and friendships. Little nibbles of advice such as "Figure out what you want. Say it out loud. Then shut up," pepper the section breaks, and longer pieces chronicling SNL, Upright Citizens Brigade and Parks and Recreation well pretty fascinating.
The other thing that I deeply appreciated about Poehler's book is that the design is stunning. It's rather whimsical in a lot of ways, with bright, cheerful colors, loose leading and--try not to be too stunned--high quality printing.
One of the reasons I tend to read a lot in digital is because book design has gotten pretty terrible: Fonts with poor readibility, near-transparent paper, and cheesy binding are all the norm these days. This is obviously a "big book," but the designers and production people really knocked it out the park and I hope they get all sorts of design accolades, because it's so deserved.