“I took so long to assemble my lovely family. If only they would disappear.”
While Julia Sweeney is known as a talented comedienne and writer and performer of her one-woman shows, she is also a talented essayist. Happily for us, the past few years have provided her with some rich material. Julia adopted a Chinese girl named Mulan (“After the movie?”) and then, a few years later, married and moved from Los Angeles to Chicago. She writes about deciding to adopt her child, strollers, nannies (including the Chinese Pat), knitting, being adopted by a dog, The Food Network, and meeting Mr. Right through an email from a complete stranger who wrote, “Desperately Seeking Sweeney-in-Law.” She recounts how she explained the facts of life to nine-year-old Mulan, a story that became a wildly popular TED talk and YouTube video.
Some of the essays reveal Julia’s ability to find that essential thread of human connection, whether it’s with her mother-in-law, who candidly reveals a story that most people would keep a secret, or with an anonymous customer service rep during a late-night phone call. But no matter what the topic, Julia always writes with elegant precision, pinning her jokes with razor-sharp observations while articulating feelings that we all share.
Poignant, provocative, and wise, this is a funny, and at times powerful, memoir by a woman living her life with originality and intelligence.
Sweeney, former cast member of Saturday Night Live (1990-1994) and creator of the androgynous character "Pat", takes readers on an intimate and humorous journey through her satisfying and occasionally messy family life. Married and now living outside of Chicago, Sweeney depicts the tribulations of adopting a baby girl from China and her life as a single-mother. With timing true to her comedic roots, she meanders delightfully through past histories, recounting her years in Los Angeles, her twenty-five year high school reunion, and the assortment of men she dated. Sweeney tackles a myriad of touchy topics with candor and bigheartedness. Any subject is fair game. Whether describing the long search for the right nanny for her daughter, her intense dislike of big strollers which she describes as "super-wide, almost Hummer-like in their obnoxiousness, a veritable trailer for their precious cargo," or the death of her beloved brother, Sweeney plunges right in. "Okay. Let me stop this lightly comic, chatty memoir and brings things to a dead stop. Emphasis on dead. My brother Bill died yesterday." Sweeney's devilish sense of humor successfully makes the transition to the page, linking the scenes of her life as daughter, sister, wife, and mother into a delightful whole.