Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals by Mary Jo Pehl
Reading Challenge: A book you can read in a day.
If you have been reading this blog regularly, then you’re probably related to me by birth or marriage, or you’re that one friend who kept reading my blog even after my review of The Selection gave her nightmares. Thanks, Catherine, you’re the best. Anyway, if you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you know me, and if you know me, you probably know the following things.
You know when I reviewed Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I suggested that she writes like everyone’s best friend, while recognizing that she would probably not actually be my best friend. Here is another book that reads like it’s written by somebody who could be your best friend, but the difference is, I actually now want to be Mary Jo Pehl’s friend. We both love books! We both hate shopping! We both have a deadpan humor that could easily be misunderstood!
You also know that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is my favorite TV show. See, in this, my final year of grad school, I have a pretty awful schedule. Three days a week I’m in an internship, the next day is for classes, then the following three days (the weekend, I might add) I work evening shift at what may be one of the more stressful part time jobs out there. Then after a few hours of sleep I roll right back into the internship at 8:30 a.m. I knew in advance that my schedule was going to be awful, and my husband and I agreed that it would help to plan in advance a good relaxing activity, something safe and comforting. So we decided to watch all of Mystery Science Theater 3000 from the beginning. We started in Season 1 in September, and now in April we’re partway into Season 9 of 10. I’m a big fan of MST3K. And being a big fan of Mary Jo Pehl has been part of that.
So what I’m saying is I was probably in this book’s target audience.
Let me say, though, you should no more read this book for MST3K stories than you should read Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking for Star Wars stories. Mary Jo devotes very little of a very little book to that phase of her life. What she offers instead are brief vignettes about growing up, employment, aunt-hood, dating, parents, etc. that range from pretty funny to hysterically funny (and one conversation with her sister that’s not funny, but poignant, and may conceivably make you cry instead). The deadpan humor that makes her amazing on MST3k and Cinematic Titanic is present in written form, and there’s something in the dry, self-deprecating wit that reminds me pretty strongly of Dorothy Parker, albeit a fairly happy Dorothy Parker. It’s incredibly Midwestern, too, but not in the Garrison Keillor kind of way (in that it makes me want to visit Minneapolis instead of running as far from the Twin Cities as possible). This book is short, funny, and full of life, and I liked it.
Recommended pairing: I read this book so fast I hardly thought about this. It goes so fast I think you would have time for one beer while reading this. I’m not up on the Midwestern beers (at least, none of the good ones), but it’s cold in Minnesota and you know what’s a great cold-weather beer? Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.