It’s always the same when an actor/celebrity decides to switch mediums. I think, really? And then wait for the moment when it becomes glaringly obvious that said actor (or celebrity/singer/whatever) has deluded themselves into believing that just because they are good at/liked for doing one thing, they will be a success at another. Like, when James Franco decided he was going to be a poet. Or Leighton Meester a singer (I did really like that “Good Girls Go Bad” song, though, but she was only featured on it, so it doesn’t really count). It makes me laugh so hard whenever I see an actor quoted as saying they’re “working on their album.”
But I made an exception for Lauren Graham, because that is how much I love her (also, I knew that she had graduated with a degree in English, so this sort of thing is not necessarily out of her wheelhouse). And I’m so glad I did, because this book was actually good, and not in that ‘good for an actor’ way, but actually good. Not that I’m not going to add qualifiers onto that statement, because I am, just not that particular qualifier. This book is good enough that it deserves to be looked at as a book by an author and not as a book written by an actor trying to be an author. (The main qualifier I would use, by the way, is ‘good for a first novel.’)
Someday, Someday, Maybe is the story of Franny Banks, who lives in New York City and is trying to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress. She set herself a goal: three years of trying to be an actress, and then she would pack her dream away and move back home to her dependable ex-boyfriend and become an English teacher, like her father. If she hasn’t made it in three years, her thinking went, then she isn’t going to make it at all. The book takes place in the mid-1990s, as Franny only has six months left on her three year deadline. From there, the book is a sort of inside-baseball account of what it’s like to try to make in the biz, dealing with auditions and body image issues and yes, love interests. (I actually could have done without this part, but more on that later.)
It’s hard to evaluate this novel, or even read it, without imagining it as a sort of semi-autobiographical confession on Graham’s part. Franny’s journey to actordom mirrors Graham’s (they both got their starts on sitcoms in the mid-1990s, they both have curly black hair, they’re both funny and smart), although I’m sure a large bulk of Franny’s story has been fictionalized, but the rest of it rings too true to not come from Graham’s real-life experience. That’s a little bit distracting, but mostly it gives the book an authenticity that made those parts my favorites in the novel. The only quibble I have is with the love triangle. Franny is distracted by a romance with a beautiful, self-important up and coming actor (who I couldn’t stop picturing as James Franco, and I don’t seem to be the only one who had this problem). This romance exhausted me, because it was so obvious to me that he was a douchenozzle, but Graham sort of saves it at the end by tying Franny’s realization of said douchebaggery to her own realization of her self-worth (also, there’s this really neat meta-moment where she and the good love interest, Dan, have a converstaion about the purpose of love triangles in films that almost made me glad she’d included one in her book).
I’ll be excited to see what Graham writes in the future, and also to see if the TV series she and Ellen Degeneres are producing based on this book makes it to air (the story lends itself perfectly to the format of a TV series). I liked this book a lot, and it kind of makes me mad that it will probably be written off by most people as chick-lit, or as ‘women’s fiction’ (or, ‘that book by that actor’). It’s just a good book.