Posts Tagged ‘The Book of Joan’

Two Books for September: Part Two

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Note: Joan Rivers died on September 2nd, 2015. She was also a grandmother, so it seems fitting to review her daughter Melissa’s on this month, because it is not only the anniversary of her death, but also National Grandparents’ Day was last week and Joan was a grandmother, a role she seemed to enjoy as much as her comedian gigs.

The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation by Melissa Rivers is a down-to-earth memoir of the late and great Joan Rivers, comedian, writer, producer, and all-around funny lady. I have always been a fan of Joan Rivers. I add her to my list of women I admire and emulate. First is Dorothy Parker; next is Nora Ephron, and now I add Joan Rivers to my list. These women were smart, clever, irreverent, and said things that many of us thought but were afraid to say openly.

Melissa is an only child and she traveled everywhere with her mother and father. And Joan traveled a lot! She went wherever the work took her and she was always looking for more gigs. She was probably a workaholic but she loved what she did.

Because I saw the documentary about Joan Rivers a few years ago (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work) and I read several of her books, most recently Memoirs of a Diva, I already knew a lot about this bawdy, gutsy lady of the stage. I watched her years ago on Johnny Carson and a few years ago on television. She was fearless in what she said, sometimes scathingly so, but she managed to get away with it, because as her daughter “Missy” noted, Joan was as hard on herself as she was others.

There are wonderful photos and original letters included in the book and the Table of Contents gives the reader a hint of what’s in store. Here’s a sample: She Works Hard for the Money; Death Be Not Loud; Here’s Johnny; Mirror, Mirror; Know When to Fold  ‘Em, From Here to Maternity, Speaking of my Mother…..

What the book not so surprisingly reveals is that Melissa has her own brand of humor, which comes through in her style of writing about her mother. Amazingly, Melissa also remembers many conversations with her mom, which makes the book seem current.

Writing this book must not have been easy for Joan Rivers’ daughter. Joan’s death is only one year old, so the memories are still fresh and painful. And hopefully writing this has been a more positive and less negative experience for only daughter Melissa. She also has one child, Cooper, whom Joan adored, and according to Melissa, takes after his famous grandmother. As the back cover states, this fact has Melissa “asking for prayers for her sanity.” Perhaps the fact that Cooper is funny like Joan means Melissa will always have a part of her mother with her.

The Book of Joan is published by Crown Archetype and costs $26 (hard cover). This memoir about Joan Rivers by her daughter Melissa is worth it!