I love myself a good memoir. Memoirs are my favorite kind genre. Phil Knight’s Shoedog, J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar, and so many more have made an indelible mark on me. In fact, I should look up how highly I’ve rated books by genre. My first book of the new year was a memoir, specifically a celebrity memoir. I am cautious of celebrity memoirs and usually tend to steer clear of them.
I stumbled onto Hello, Molly! thanks to this episode of The Book Review. The hosts discuss the problem with celebrity memoirs is that it is more often than not ghostwritten. These ghostwriters are undoubtedly talented but often they don’t succeed in capturing the celebrity’s true voice. And I can see how this glaring lack of authenticity makes the enterprise seems more of a publicity stunt than anything else. However, sometimes collaborations with ghostwriters work really well and allows for a great memoir. The podcast hosts mentioned Shannon’s collaboration with Sean Wilsey as one of those really good memoirs.
I knew nothing about Molly Shannon, but I trust the New York Times so I downloaded the audiobook just as they recommended. And I have to say I absolutely loved it. I laughed and cried and my heart broke and my heart yearned, basically, I felt all the feelings. Shannon narrated the book herself which is a treat, she’s got a distinct voice that I can still hear even one week after I completed the audiobook. Shannon’s story starts off with a tragedy that remains with her but she doesn’t let it define her. A large part of the book is about her dad, the complexity of that relationship, and how each of them admired the other. Shannon had this wild spirit in adolescence that she carries into her adult life, and I love that her father encouraged and supported that sort of non-conformity to society and to rules. It made me happy to know that she was free to be who she was instead of who she was told to be. She mentions actors and comedians and people in the entertainment industry so warmly, that her part of that world seems like a really nice place to be.
Eventually, I looked up the SNL skits she mentions, a couple of interviews she did, and bookmarked some movies she mentioned. You don’t have to know anything about Shannon to enjoy her book. Shannon’s story is entertaining and ultimately uplifting, and one that I recommend getting the audiobook for.