Reading Log: Marc Maron’s Attempting Normal

After slogging through Amy Poehler’s memoir/funnybook, I must confess I had some concerns going into this particular audiobook. I love Maron’s standup and his interviews, but I’ve always found him a bit narcissistic and self-aggrandizing. I’m pleased to report that his expression of these qualities just makes the book better. Maron’s prose is incredibly personal and conversational, blurring the line between persona and honest confession. His reading sounds like she’s just pulling the words out of the air rather than the book in front of him.

Maron’s self-obsession actually serves the project remarkably well. Told in first person, it has the quality of a long-running personal anecdote spun by a clever storyteller with an excellent blend of insight and humor. I wouldn’t want to be Marc’s friend, but I certainly don’t mind being in his head here. The book is wide-ranging and follows no real arc, with Maron opting to present his life experiences as loosely connected vignettes rather than a structured narrative.

The reason this book works where others of a similar ilk fall flat is the personal authenticity. I don’t know (nor do I care) how much of the “Marc” character is an actual reflection of the author, but the character is interesting and compelling. Rather than being a “this is who I am and this is the tale of my life story,” Maron presents himself as a person talking to you about interesting shit that has happened in his life. I don’t understand why comedians often make such subpar writers, but Maron is a refreshing exception to the rule.

Recommendation: Get it. It’s a short, easy read and -like the best stand-up- the humor and the insight interlock very well.

Attempting Normal
by Marc Maron
Powells.com
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