Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life – Amy Krouse Rosenthal (2005)

A very funny book written in a novel format about a perfectly ordinary woman. (I think this could count as a biography is many ways.) Krouse Rosenthal admits right from the beginning:

“I was not abused, abandoned, or locked up as a child. My parents were not alcoholics, not were they divorced or dead. I am not a misunderstood genius, a former child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity. I am not a drug addict, a sex addict, or recovered anything. If I indeed had a past life, I have no recollection of who I was. I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story…”

This is, really, a random collection of memories and facts about the author’s life formatted as encyclopedia entries. Done in alphabetical order, the entries range from “A” (e.g. “answering machine”) to “Y” (“You”), but it covers a vast selection of thoughts and lists both from her own mind and those of her friends.

And although this all sounds very disjointed, taken as a whole, the multi-layered details add up to give a surprisingly in-depth description of Krouse.  I think this is a book which could be picked up and put down at intervals, but I think the best way would be to read it in large chunks to see her process of thinking and writing. To be honest, this is a book that I wish I had written – it is extremely clever, very funny, and just altogether great.

It’s slightly spooky just how often I would read an entry and completely agree and understand and shake my head in recognition: I am not the only person with this skewed sense of humor and strange world view!

Overall, I really recommend this and it will be an eleventh hour addition to my top ten NF list for 2011. (Although this is posted in January 2012, the book was actually finished just before Christmas.)

ETA 03/24/2016: Just learned that Amy Krouse Rosenthal died from cancer this week. 😦

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