Review: Talking as Fast as I Can

There’s no such thing as too much Gilmore Girls. So when I saw Lauren Graham was publishing a book titled: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between, I added it to my list. I don’t read many memoirs, but this was one I wanted to check out. And now I have.

FullSizeRender (19)About the book: Lauren Graham writes about the parts of her life that led to her acting career and beyond, describing how she arrived at the set of Gilmore Girls for the first time, took a nine year break, and came back for the four episode revival/conclusion to the popular TV show.

Although the chronology of her book starts at her birth and very early life, typical Lauren Graham/Lorelei Gilmore humor is also injected into the tale relatively quickly.

“Don’t let your plans have the last laugh, but laugh last when your plan laughs, and when your plan has the last laugh, laugh back, laughing!”

At first Graham makes a point of tackling some of the “expected” topics in a celebrity memoir, like fashion and staying in shape and life in Hollywood, but even these she makes a farce of. Graham provides every possible conflicting diet tip, discusses her wish for equal longevity (every person should be guaranteed the same number of years to live at birth, with days added or lost for things like regular exercise or regular cigarette use, respectively), and admits she’s more of a fashion follower than trendsetter. She uses her platform as a celebrity to support real opinions, and she does it all while sounding like a regular person. A regular funny person. On the pressure for actors to use plastic surgery, she says,

“It’s a bummer that it’s even an option to appear more youthful by chopping off your ears and reattaching them in order to hoist up your neck flaps.”

But there’s so much more than celebrity fluff to find here. Graham talks about chickening out of a theater major in college and choosing the more practical (ha) English degree instead. Her biggest goal starting out was to appear on Broadway, to have her picture hanging up where other aspiring actors would see it and wonder who she was.

“One thing I learned: starting off with very low standards is a surefire way to ensure they’ll be met.”

Surprisingly, there’s not actually a lot of behind-the-scenes information on Gilmore Girls in the entire book. There’s one long chapter in the middle in which Graham watches the main seven seasons of the show and shares her thoughts on what she remembers from that time and what reflections she’s gained by the years that have passed. There’s another chapter at the end of the book when she discusses at length her experience filming the new episodes for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. The reader can appreciate in these sections that Graham is providing her own personal thoughts on the making of the show rather than repeating factual information that fans could find on the internet in five minutes or less. If I could change one thing about the book, I would add more about Gilmore Girls–even the subtitle states: “From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between.” I expected more. The chapter of her reactions to watching the first seven seasons (for the first time!) feels rushed. And yet…even after filming the pilot episode, Graham had no idea whether she would stay with the show, or how important a part of her life it would become.

“Whether it’s on your own or through someone else, it’s wonderful to be introduced to something you didn’t realize you needed.”

My favorite section was the one about Graham’s writing. She talks first about her experience with publishing a fiction novel, and moves on to the projects she was working on in the time leading up to the publication of Talking as Fast as I Can. Clearly she was working on this memoir at that time, but she was also acting, writing for another show, and starting on a second fiction novel. The thread I liked most throughout this book is Graham’s encouragement to the other dreamers out there who have no idea where they’ll end up but keep pushing forward anyway. In the writing chapter especially, I saw some of my own challenges and goals reflected in Graham’s experiences–the ever-present urge to procrastinate, the elimination of distractions for timed periods to combat it, the repetitive rounds of revision, etc. Graham’s entire book reads more like she’s delineating “ways to reach your dreams, and reasons I think you should try,” than the exclusive ins and outs of acting. She’s trying to boost up the next generation as she was boosted up, by sharing a story of success that could easily have gone another way.

“It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen, and it’s true that whatever you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters, but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don’t know it yet.”

The point of a memoir, in my opinion, is to see both the uniqueness of someone else’s situation and to be reminded that we’re all just human. Every person’s story is at least a little different, and helps broaden the reader’s perspective of the world and what’s possible on it, but it’s also proof that everyone’s born and everyone dies, and what matters is what you do in the middle. You could be an actor. You could be a writer. You could be the person in the mascot costume taking pictures with hordes of little kids.

“It’s an accomplishment to do something well, but maybe even a bigger one to do something well when you’d really rather not be doing it at all.”

Graham has been all three. She started at the bottom, like most of the rest of us, and she’s trying to hold out a helping hand now that she’s higher up. That’s what I liked about this memoir.

“When you have no credits on your resume, there’s no proof yet one way or the other. There’s no way to know if the time you’re spending will someday prove to be time you spent paying your dues, or time you spent fooling yourself.”

But you keep trying anyway, because how else will you find out?

My reaction: 4 out of 5 stars. Although not exactly what I expected, I did take a few good laughs and a lot of encouragement from this book. Also, I was shocked to be reminded that when Gilmore Girls ended after season seven, Netflix was nowhere near starting its own original series filming, which was the format used for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I’m glad things worked out the way they did, both for Gilmore Girls and Lauren Graham. I’m hoping to get to Graham’s fiction novel, Someday, Someday Maybe sometime this summer.

Coming up Next: I’m currently reading Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land, the third and final book in the Magicians trilogy. I have some theories I’m interested in investigating, but I have no idea how it’ll end and I can’t wait to find out! I’m not very far yet, but I’ve been invested in this final part of the story since page one, and I plan to be reading ACOWAR next week so I’ll be finishing this one up pronto.

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

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