Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Why Not Me?", by Mindy Kaling

Since I wrote on 1/13/15 about Mindy Kaling’s first book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”, I still haven’t watched her show. But my daughter, who gave me that first book, just gave me Kaling’s second one, “Why Not Me?” (Crown Archetype, 2015), which is equally engaging and funny. It is also a sort of memoir in the form of a series of short essays about various aspects of her life and work. In both books, she deals with issues of race, gender, and power, but always with a light touch. She is now quite a powerful woman in the world of television, as the creator, writer, and star of “The Mindy Project” (following her role on “The Office”). As we know, Hollywood and show business are not generally worlds where women -- especially women of color (Kaling is from an Indian family) -- play equal roles. So although Kaling is low-key about it, she is a force to be reckoned with, as well as a role model. Another way she has been a role model is through her normal-size figure, which because of Hollywood’s tradition of very thin women stars of television and movies, is considered unusual by many. She speaks openly about this, and provides a note of common sense. The 21 or so chapters in this book address many different topics, including her long days at work, her friendships, her dating and relationships, clothes, her meeting President Obama, and many more. There are also some candid photos. On one level, this book is light and entertaining, which is great in and of itself, but it also, on another level, slips in some important discussions about the way Hollywood and the larger U.S. society treat women, people of color, and anyone who is “different” from the “norms.”
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