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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling

A book that delivers exactly on its premise, nothing more, nothing less. I honestly hadn’t known who Kaling was before picking this up at a friend’s house (being an indifferent watcher of television) but I enjoyed her writing. As a rough autobiography, it’s filled with short vignettes from the timeline of her life interspersed with lists relating to her life at that moment. A section on high school and discovering a distant friend was a mutual comedy fan led to a chapter on best moments in comedy film. A chapter on moving to New York with her two best friends was followed by a list of rules for living with best friends. Likewise, a section on dating was followed by a list of attractive male characteristics.

 

Overall, it is largely composed personal stories that don’t necessarily expose a lot of herself in potentially controversial ways. While there were moments I laughed out loud, I couldn’t help but spend an equal amount of time wondering at the hints of unfinished thoughts. She mentions Rainn Wilson a couple of times, and I’m not sure after reading if they are really frenemies or not. More curious is her virtually aside mention of rather unusual choices–living in a one bedroom with two best friends and sharing a bed, for instance–tantalizing the reader by mentioning how they fit perfectly into the lesbian-gentrified neighborhood, but largely leaves issues of her sexuality ambiguous until the final chapters about dating guys. I don’t care what sexuality Mindy has as much as her hints at awareness that she is not appropriately ‘feminine’ enough, and what that might mean to a perception-drenched profession. This became even more curious when I learned that her big break was an off-off-off Broadway production of her and one of the besties doing sketches in drag as “Matt and Ben.” No discussion of the political ramifications of gender impersonation was mentioned (or even of impersonating celebrities).

 

What interested me even more was the experience of being both female and Indian in Hollywood. She alludes to her (failed) attempts at race-based jokes a couple of times, but not specifically what they were or how they were inappropriate, except to say that Dave Chappelle and Sarah Silverman do a better job at pulling it off (I’d beg to differ on Silverman). Although she certainly mentions her looks standing out when she was growing up, she concentrates as more on her pudgy physique than Indian background. I feel like there is a great amount left unsaid that has the potential for bitingly funny insight and social commentary, so it’s disappointing that some of the sections seem like columns written for In Style. I find myself contemplating her mission, her personal code, at her politics. I don’t read many autobiographies, but I find it curious that something potentially so intimate could feel so generic.

 

However, I’m not sure she intended her book to be any more than a two day read, as she alludes to in the introduction, so a solid three stars for an entertaining, facile read.