faintingviolet’s #CBR5 review #24: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

I was always going to like this book. I have been a Graham fan for nearly 15 years, which is half my life. My sister and I use Gilmore Girls as the basis for our understanding of our relationship to one another and I watch Parenthood religiously. I will also watch terrible movies that feature her (why won’t she stick to television?) and I love watching her as a guest on Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show.

And I do like this book, but I really wish I loved it.

Someday, Someday, Maybe focuses on six months in the life of Franny Banks, aspiring actress in New York City. Franny has a given herself three years to ‘make it’ and she is entering her final six. We follow her as she navigates class, work, agents, auditions, bookings, and boys. Graham was herself an aspiring actress in New York in the early 90s and while I believe her claims that Franny is a fictional character based on some of her experiences, I couldn’t help but see Graham as the main character.

The things I enjoyed most about this book happen near the end, and not because of how the story resolves itself but more in that Franny and her roommate Dan get into a great discussion about the trappings of romantic subplots and what they mean to the larger storytelling going on. It’s a great conversation and one that I would love to join in on, particularly as relates to Love Octagons (because Love Triangles are so passé).

There really aren’t any beats that a seasoned reader (that would be us, Cannonballers) wouldn’t see telegraphed a mile away, but it’s a fun quick read that is very much in the voice of one of our favorite television actresses.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #56: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

somedayIt’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.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 6: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

UnknownI was always a big fan of Gilmore Girls (and now a big fan of Bunheads. Seriously — stupid name, great show). When I had my third kid a few years ago (who was actually named Lorelei, and I swear, it has NOTHING to do with GG, but more because of a song by the Pogues) and I was up late at night with the baby, I re-watched the entire series on DVD. And what I noticed this time around was that Lauren Graham was kind of a genius in the way she brought Lorelai to life. So when I heard that Graham had a novel coming out — and knowing that her background was in English and Literature — I had high expectations.

And honestly, I wasn’t disappointed.

Someday, Someday, Maybe could be pigeonholed by some as being “chick lit”. But I hate that term, so I’ll just say that this is light, refreshing fiction, with a feminine viewpoint to it. Nothing fancy, but well done and enjoyable.

SSM tells the tale of Franny Banks, an actress struggling to make it in NYC in the mid-1990s. She’s given herself a deadline, and told herself that if she hasn’t had a break by that date, to pack it up and head back home. If she hasn’t done something with acting in three years, it probably isn’t going to happen. Franny has her ups and downs both professionally and personally — but she gets herself a supercool agent, and starts dating a handsome actor, and it looks like things are finally going her way. But of course, the reader knows that maybe Franny might be better off with a different agent, or a different guy…

A few things I really enjoyed about the book:

I LOVED that it took place in 1995. Before cell phones and texting, before knowing what everyone else was doing and where they were at every second of the day. Franny used pay phones and had an answering machine. Also, Franny lives in Park Slope BEFORE it was the cool place to live, and talks about how some of the neighborhoods were dangerous, but the apartments were cheap!

I really liked the insight (obviously, some of this must come from Graham’s experiences at the time) into making it as an actress. Franny struggles to make rent payments, has to work horrible jobs wearing a hairnet, and yet stays dedicated to acting.

I also liked that at the end, although it looks like things are finally on the right track for Franny, her life isn’t perfect and she still has things to figure out.

Lastly, I loved that the book took place in New York and that none of the characters worked in publishing. Doesn’t it always seem like every single fictional female character in NYC works at a magazine? Argh.

I enjoyed reading Someday, Someday, Maybe and hope that Graham continues to write. She has a strong voice and her sense of humor really shines here. I also enjoyed reading the book picturing a 1990′s Graham (maybe circa NewsRadio) as Franny, with a Spin City-era Connie Britton as her best friend/roommate Jane, and maybe big Craig Bierko as Dan, the giant male roommate. That definitely made it more fun for me.

If you are a fan of Graham, or are just looking for a pleasant way to spend a few hours, I definitely recommend Someday, Someday, Maybe. 3 1/2 stars!

I should note that I received an advance copy of this lovely little book from NetGalley.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.