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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Odd Woman Out: Exposure in Essays and Stories by Melanie Chartoff is an anthology of non-fiction autobiographical pieces that weave together the fascinating quilt of Chartoff's life in full color. The best part? The patchwork is comically uneven. Chartoff is best known by those of us who are “of a certain age” for her work on the comedy sketch show Fridays and the sitcom Parker Can't Lose. She chronicles her ascent into the spotlight through stories of her youth, homelife and schooling, and a move to New York. She catapults into fame but it comes at a cost. The latter part of the book focuses on the search for balance, love, and a true quality of life that cannot be found without either.
“I always cry at weddings,” I said.
“You started in the parking lot.”
“I like to start early, avoid the crush.”
Melanie Chartoff is absolutely brilliant. A firecracker of a storyteller and as hilarious as I anticipated when I picked up Odd Woman Out. There is an onslaught of celebrity memoirs that speak of the hollowness fame can have despite being grand by all outward appearances, but they always seem to feel a little bit like humble-bragging. That condition of patting yourself on the back but dressing it in sadness to hint at personal humility. Chartoff has none of this. There are also very real moments of misery that flooded me as a reader. One, in particular, is when a condition of her sexual consent is ignored which, as we all agree on now, means consent is not met...and there's a word for this situation that is terrifying to say out loud. Chartoff shares it in her book and an earlier encounter as a teen. The profound honesty is what makes Chartoff credible, the humor is what makes her likable. All combined, this is what makes her book a winner.