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Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass by Jen Lancaster

By Vikky | Books | January 28, 2010 |

By Vikky | Books | January 28, 2010 |

Jen Lancaster has written several memoirs about her life. I believe this one was the first, but it happened to be the last of her books I had to read (it was always checked out at the library). By the time I picked up this book, I Got It: Lancaster thinks she’s hilarious and fabulous and loves, loves, loves to talk about herself and assumes we love to hear about it (and, apparently, we do). I understand that that is the thought process behind most memoirs — that other people would be interested in your life — but I’m so glad this is the last of her books for me because I’m pretty tired of her shit.

Bitter is the New Black chronicles Lancaster’s fall from a VP of … some sort of company that sells things (I don’t really understand, and ultimately it’s not important) to an unemployed basketcase. This woman made SCADS of money but didn’t save much of it, instead snapping up dozens of cashmere twinsets, getting her hair cut and colored once a month (usually taking in a spa treatment while her hair was processing) and living in an actual penthouse apartment. In Chicago. Her boyfriend was making a ton of money, too, but I really don’t think he was saving, either.

Then she is laid off and given one week severance. She networks and interviews and posts her resume everywhere, but this is right after 9/11 and people just aren’t looking for someone in her position with her asking price. She hangs in for a while, then her boyfriend loses his job. Then they hang in for a while, but things really start to get bad. They even decide to get married (in Vegas, on her parents’ dime) so they will get some cash as gifts. Lancaster comes up with that plan, and thinks it is absolutely genius. Make your friends give you money, while you get a new dress and a big party and everyone has to pay attention to you!

That kind of sums up Jen Lancaster. She is the kind of person that in real life I probably couldn’t stand — and can’t really stand on the page, either. She is a narcissist; she is loud and rude (but funny, so it’s okay, see?) and is quite sure that she’s the best at everything she does. To add to that, she knows she is a narcissist and loud and rude, so she thinks that acknowledging it makes it okay to be all of those things. Guess what? It doesn’t. It makes you more annoying because you know you piss people off but won’t do anything about it.

So why have I read all of her damn books (I think there are four?). Well, she does know how to tell a story — she is incredibly conversational and, yes, funny — and she adds all of these footnotes, which, again, are pretty funny (I like footnotes that aren’t simply informational). And they go by very fast. They are easy reads.

She’s still annoying.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. To read more of Vikky’s reviews, check out her blog.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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