Hello again folks, back again with another memoir – something we haven’t had in a little bit… My review copy of Ali in Wonderland was provided courtesy of LuxuryReading.com, which also hosted the original (shorter) post of this book review on March 30 (available here).
Ali in Wonderland
Ali Wentworth has lived quite a life. I will confess that I did not know who she was when I picked this book for a review – but I did know from the blurb that she was married to George Stephanopoulos and the daughter of Ronald Reagan’s White House Press Secretary. As a former resident of Washington, DC, how could I resist? I enjoy memoirs, love reading about DC, and couldn’t imagine how I’d turn down a book with cover blurbs by Kathy Griffin, Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin AND the author’s mom… Plus the synopsis called it “addictively funny” and included a slew of adjectives I am quite fond of, like “off-the-wall”, “hilarious”, and “borderline insane”.
Will I never learn?
No one’s book that self-describes as “hilarious” ever really is. I think it’s something like real smart people talking about their own intelligence or real rich people their own money – if you’ve got it, you know it, and you don’t have to tell everyone. That’s what happened here.
Sure, there are some funny bits. Ali was a precocious child and got even more precocious as she got older, so there are some very cute and very funny stories. Much of the stories start out as standard “poor little rich girl” fare, with their only distinction being that they are set against the backdrop of the DC political scene as opposed to the standard Hollywood, New York, or New England moneyed scenes. They evolve in slightly atypical ways – that I will admit. But not in quite the outré fashion I’d expect from a former In Living Colour girl…
She goes out of her way to shock – again, fairly standard fare for a memoir of this type, and is occasionally over-the-top, but usually in a fairly predictable way. As an added bonus, they’re not always entirely believable – a fact which I felt actually added to, rather than detracted from, their charm. Still, her stories are, for the most part, fun and frivolous – the literary equivalent of a frothy, fruity beach cocktail. You know there’s nothing particularly good for you in there, but the indulgence is worth it every now and again. Just make sure you don’t overdose, because that’s never pretty…
I know she’s a comic actress, and that “hilarious” is the type of adjective a publicist will always use in that context. But I will offer the same, unsolicited, advice I often do: be careful, oh mighty publicists and press agents, because over-billing may sell initial copies and drive initial interest, but it almost guarantees a disappointing review and following.