Tales From a Broad: An Unreliable Memoir by Fran Lebowitz

fran.jpgBantam (2004)

At some point in our lives, we meet her. She talks loud enough for you to wince everytime she speaks, and she yaks at a rate of 600 words per minute. Yes, she loves to talk–about me, me, me (herself), and complain about everything. She has a temper that makes a matador’s bull demure, and most of all, she is your friend.

This whole book is like an unedited one-sided conversation with a loud friend who doesnt know how to use the comma or period. She also thinks that the world revolves only around her.

So this American woman, Fran Lebowitz, a famous (or so she claims) literary agent in New York, whines to her husband (a music copyright lawyer) about being burnt out. So the dutiful husband takes her and their 2 kids along to Singapore, when he gets sent there by his boss for a long business trip.

Lebowitz now focuses her radar on the people of Singapore, locals and fellow expat wives alike. This lady bitches just about everything, its irritating. She is right in a lot of ways though–like very candidly advises “don’t forget the ‘LAH!'” when communicating with Singaporeans, and how these people are so square and move through their lives like a robot under command. Example: she went down to her condominium’s tennis court, and was greeted by a “No reservations, cannot play ,lah” So she offered to make a reservation now, on the spot. “Madam, cannot, lah” Losing her temper, she asks how to make a reservation then, and the receptionist tells her, through a phone call. So Lebowitz flips out her mobile phone on the spot, calls the guy who is in front of her, makes the reservation, and gets the court.

Then her husband announces that the boss decided to station him in Singapore for three more years, hence Lebowitz grudgingly becomes an expat’s wife. Her adventure ranges from looking for a Filipino maid, and the headaches that go with it, and living the life of a frat student–partying with other expats almost everyday. Reading the book is like going through the thoughts of a 13 year old school girl who has yet to overcome the perils of adolescence. (Mood swings and pure grade A bitchiness)

No nationality is spared from her sonar, imitating her Canadian friend, “Will you give me that baig please?”, checking out her Swede friend’s grand breasts and butt, and introducing an Irish friend “She has 3 daughters whose names are Caoughin, Byrehrn, and Siebheidn, but of course, they are pronounced as Lisa, Kim, and Ann, respectively” Ok, the last one I found funny, but there’s more criticisms of her surroundings (both places and people) than storyline. The only thing that is appreciated is the food.
And she’s in Singapore, for crying out loud. I can’t imagine how many verses of whinings she will have if she goes to the neighboring countries. She did go to Malaysia, and her accounts are predictably like a high school composition. (“I can’t believe we’re eating this icky food and feeding it to my children”)

The story ends (thankfully!) with her joining a triathlon, and placing fourth. At last, something productive from her runnung/excercise addiction. The husband also announces that the boss is cutting their 3 year placement short, and to her surprise, she is reluctant to leave Singapore afterall.

I don’t believe that all expats are fat pampered pumpkins, but this ‘memoir’ is a bratty and ungrateful diary that just about fortifies the generalization that expats are indeed, spoiled.

One shouldn’t take this book seriously, and its not hard to do that with a cover And a title as such. The problem is, even if you do take it lightly, it will still weave its way into your nerves.


10 responses to “Tales From a Broad: An Unreliable Memoir by Fran Lebowitz

  1. I read the book and found it quite funny and endearing; the author takes more of a swipe at herself than anyone else, which I suppose is why its called a hyperbolic memoir. Anyone with a sense of humor and will definitely enjoy this one.

  2. After I finished reading the book I sort of felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend, a nutty friend but a funny one too! and I wished I could continue to read about her adventures…

  3. fran lebowitz

    I appreciate, more than I can say, the two kind readers who are attempting to undo the vitriole that ‘Surfer Girl’ has spread all over the internet about my book. The point of the story that Jean Carmela Chua-Lim misses is, like you said, that the reader is supposed to see how misguided the character is and the character is hit hard in the end by her flaw. The book is about ‘no matter where you go, there you are.’ It’s about not seeing the forest through the trees. It’s about ‘the glass is half full but I ordered a double.’ It’s about sweating the small stuff and wasting opportunities. Anyone who is a parent, will look back and say they wished they could do it all again and this time, appreciate it all. On the other hand, it was also just a lot of silliness meant to amuse. And yes, you were supposed to see that the character had a big “kick me” sign taped to her back.
    Surfer Girl: There are a lot of books out there. why not spend your internet hours pointing out the ones people should read instead of the ones to avoid. That might be more helpful than trying to ruin my life. The hurt you’ve done me and my family probably weighs heavier in your karma than saving people the trauma of reading my book…which you finished? Why?

  4. WOW Lebowitz, you really have NO LIFE whatsoever do you? First, you go into my Associated Content page and rattle on then now to this website. I’m flattered! i have 2000000 other pages written about how bad this memoir is–GO ! SEARCH FOR THEM! NOW!
    For you to take this much time and effort to go into EACH and every criticism your “memoir” has?? You cant deal with crtiticsm? then do us all a favor and DONT write. I feel that i had to write this review about your book because honestly, reading through it wasted about 1-2 days of my life which i can’t get back.
    ONE thumbs down review could ruin your life?? Geez. Honestly, you should seek help. Get a grip. If you’re bored–go get yourself some REAL life problems.
    You know, you badger people who don’t get your “sense of humor” but honestly–where’s your common sense?–not everyone loves your book. DEAL WITH IT, WOMAN.

  5. fran lebowitz

    It’s not what you have to say that bothers me, it’s that the internet keeps it there. As for me not having a life, my dear, you have spent how much time writing how many reviews (200,000 you say? What?) of a book you hated but finished “wasting one – two days of your life that you can’t get back”? Well, why the fuck didn’t you simply close the book and return to your life? What do you think that adds up to? It’s the sheer volume of your diatribes. The fact that your proliferation of opinions will always crop up when my kids or friends or clients type out my name seems a bit more on the badgering side than my wishing for you to lay off of me.
    And, hey, you seem a little angry that I am criticizing your obsession with saving the world from my book….

  6. i am entitled to my own opinion. not all of the books i read and reviewed are thumbs up, but do you see authors going gaga spewing comments like you? Ah because real authors write and attend book launches, and NOT google themselves.


    WOO HOO!! keep the comments coming!!!
    and everyone can now perfectly see what kind of a disturbed looney loser you are. đŸ™‚

  7. fran lebowitz

    Yes, all those launches…you do know about the business after all…simply no time for the real authors to google what with the launches…

    It’s the sheer abundance of these reviews that you have posted that is outlandish and, well, talk about looney. The distinction marks you as the only ‘critic’ I’ve had such a discussion with. As you can see, it is several years since you even posted them so I don’t suppose I’ve been as keenly focused on following your career or mine as you suggest. However, it’s quite likely that most authors do google themselves and I’m not sure that’s at all odd.
    Nevertheless, I defer to you, who are obviously a true professional with the excellent credentials of having your own websites.
    And being a stewardess.
    I simply wanted your unasked for, uncalled for, unpaid for, unsponsored reviews expunged from the net…or at least three versions of same.

  8. Hi Fran… been seeing alot of you lately – watched your HBO special, Public Speaking; your interview on the Jimmy Fallon show, on on you tube… you are a funny character! Common sense smart! I like that… very muse like…. I thounght that you did not use a computer???? Keep up the appearances… Thanks.

  9. Why can’t I find a copy of Tales From A Broad anywhere except on Amazon for I gigantic sum. Please help me! A loving fan. Sallie O

  10. That was a bitchin’ spat. Looking forward to Fran’s talk this week in Singapore. Surfer Girl, aiyo, please.

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