I was over the moon excited when I found this was out in the world and also (low-key) mad that I wasn’t informed earlier of this release. Broad City was one of my highlights of September 2017, when I first discovered and watched the series with the release of season four, and featured my commentary and all the details on the show in my wrap up of the month. In hindsight, I guess some things are better left unread, like angry emails or rant-y reads.
Going into this having left two disappointing books prior, I was hoping for a pick-me-up in the form of Abbi Jacobson’s writing voice. I checked out the audiobook – read by the author – and it was a joy to discover her words read with such intention and meaning; Abbi Jacobson doesn’t just read her words, she lives through them.
While reading, I also realized that this was my first foray into the author’s solo work without Ilana being there to balance out her more every-day-awkwardness. It got me wondering which part of the Broad City duo I essentially enjoy more when they’re apart. After reading nearly three chapters, it dawned on me pretty quickly…
As much as I enjoy a good tangent, I’d like to, at some point in the storyline, reach the bigger picture, you know, the one mentioned in the title and then never elaborated on till the very rapid end… This is usually where Ilana comes in to balance out Abbi’s long-winded talks with humor to light up the scene, so I found that aspect to be repeatedly missing in the essays.
It’s just that I’d rather not be taken through pages of discussion on her junk mail disposing routine and what that fully entails with the many different categories they’re divided in. By the time she gets to the point, on finding a long-lost letter, I’ve already forgotten what the essay title was about. And this effect only snowballed the more she went on. It’s at this point that I was extremely thankful for the 2X speed on audio.
It got me wondering whether a certain word count was trying to be met?? Because Abbi Jacobson had so many worthy components to elaborate on (like discussing the actual seventy-year-old letter that reached her, her road trip which starts off the book but isn’t mentioned for at least three chapters, the actual relationship she first experienced) but she either skims over the highlights in a quick paragraph or wraps it up in a speedy end, opting to discuss detailed throwaway things . And it made me feel slowly more riled up the more I found random tangents thrown my way.
I’m perplexed as to why the audiobook is over six hours when that time could’ve been cut in half with all these rants on what-ifs and building up any possible scenario (that’ll never happen) before and after the event… but then the event itself is barely discussed in detail. Like the chase to hunt down the owners of the seventy-year-old letter, which she spent romanticizing in plenty of paragraphs wondering what if, when in reality it was wrapped up in one page.
Nonfiction essays are supposed to be a fun, easy-breezy read for me, like I recently experienced while listening to Anne Bogel’s “I’d Rather Be Reading,” which cuts short at just over two hours. I wanted to be left wanting something more, which is what Broad City excels at with its 20-minute episodes. But this book just left me wanting something else. I jumped on any opportunity to be distracted in a google search by her mentions in the book, such as her friend’s chase after the rightful owner behind the developed film found in a blizzard.
I can appreciate a long tangent and vibe if it’s on a topic the writer personally cares about and I get to experience the excitement through her words, but Jacobson chose to elaborate on details that are usually cut in the second draft. There’s a lot of pages filled with dreaming and fantasizing, but little to no actual time spent on the action of the event. She even acknowledges the same:
“I’m going to go farther away from the B&B for a moment, because tangents are the most effective way I have to stall going to what I feel might be an extremely uncomfortable breakfast full of me halfheartedly making small talk over mediocre pastries. ”
She goes again into an ‘I wonder what will happen…’ spiral when staying for the first time at a B&B on her road trip, instead of just skipping straight ahead to what actually went down. This occurs way too many times in her writing to make the book enjoyable to read for me. The fact is that she build-up so many possibilities in her head of what might happen so that it creates this effect of disappointment when the real-life event finally comes around to being discussed and pales in comparison.
I mean, this is when you know the rants are bad: “While we’re here, I also want to touch on the whole saucer issue—” Plus: a whole chapter dedicated to all the items in her car for the 10-hour drive ahead.
This is also where the frustrations hits rock bottom because there are so many moments when it’s acceptable to go in depth with something juicy, like Kelly Rippa holding an article about that same long-lost letter Abbi found from seventy years ago in her mail, which happens way before Broad City, and way before Kelly Rippa even appeared on the show. Like, was that ever mentioned in real life? Did Kelly remember delivering the story? So many details worth to elaborate on but are barely mentioned again. Even something as trivial as her friend’s last name being Bieber.
Like, sure, go on a tangent about your junk mail and skip over this… Don’t mind me. There comes a point when you spend so much time wrapped up in fiction and fantasy that you tend to forget how simple and great real life can feel, how intimate and true. And I feel like this book lacked the intimate truths I was waiting to connect with, like those feelings evoked after watching a good episode of Broad City.
So it’s regrettable the good didn’t come to outshine the bad because when Abbi Jacobson focuses on the subject in front of her she shines so brightly in her humor. She nails down so many specifics that had me nodding along. Like her do’s and don‘ts when it comes to her three-week road-trip. In the end, I just wish the author would’ve spent more time talking about herself, rather than wasting so many pages on unimportant details and scenarios that never came to happen.
“Do not listen to Sia’s “Breathe Me.” If you must, do not be driving, especially not in a beautiful landscape. If you are, and it plays, do not by any means put your window down and picture your car driving through the expansive terrain from an aerial drone shot.”
Her insights are on-point: “SIDENOTE, “will-they-won’t-theys” are always will-theys, right?!”
If you enjoy long-winded, off-the-page, stream-of-consciousness writing then I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson might be your kind of book.
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