Sunday, November 3, 2019

Review: Do You Mind If I Cancel? by Gary Janetti

If I admit that I have (had) no idea who Gary Janetti is, you might wonder at my interest in reading this book. Truly, I had no idea that he wrote for very popular tv shows, or that he has a famous boyfriend, or that his Instagram is apparently hilarious (note to self: check that out), or that he has a tv show of his own coming. But I believe that funny books that only rely on the author's reputation are generally not funny and that truly funny books can survive me having less than zero pop culture knowledge about their authors. This was certainly true with Gary Janetti's collection of personal essays Do You Mind If I Cancel?

These short pieces chronicle Janetti's life as a child and young man, when he wasn't any more fame adjacent than the rest of us, never mind actually well-known in his field. He details his early addiction to soap operas and their importance in forming him as a young gay man. He writes about learning to be comfortable in his own skin (although he seems to always have had quite a healthy appreciation for his own good looks whatever he felt about himself otherwise). He shares not only the string of mediocre jobs he saw only as stop-gaps to gain experiences for him to mine in his future careers as author and/or actor but also how incredibly terrible he was at these low paying, service-oriented careers. He writes of all of these things entertainingly and he's funny, having certainly mastered the witty aside. His imagination as a child (or perhaps his imagined childhood imagination from an adult perspective--are you confused yet?) was over the top but he's clearly no stranger to hyperbole as an adult either. The collection is mostly light and quippy with one small but quite poignant nod to the AIDS crisis in the 80s and is therefore a speedy, breezy read. What it misses are the essays of him actually becoming a writer, of making it, of what he went through to get to the place he's in in his life now, or at least where he stands in the last essay of the book, having looked back and now looking to the future. But maybe those missing essays wouldn't match the chatty, friendly, and casual tone of the included essays. Who knows? So this is a dishy bit of fun that feels like there's something a little more serious missing. But if you want a good, harmless gossip on the couch with your exaggerated, showy friend, this is just the ticket.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to review.

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