James Lipton's Memoir May Be The Worst Thing Ever

James Lipton, host of Bravo's Inside The Actor's Studio, has a book! It's called Inside Inside and we got our copy today. It's 492 pages long and costs $27.95. If the first two pages are any indication, it might be the most gloriously horrendous book ever written. You have to love a man who starts the memoir of his middle-brow career with an epigraph by Chaucer, from 'The Canterbury Tales': "And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche." Nearly as trenchant as Dostoevsky's "Raskolnikov seemed offended." (Crime and Punishment, pg 144.) Or Faulkner's immortal words, "'Such good beer,' she said." (Sanctuary, pg 140.) Except with the added benefit that Chaucer is a) in Middle English and b) in the prologue. Let's face it, Lipton only has time for prologues. He's a busy guy and can barely read. But can he write? You decide.

I made myself a promise that I would not begin this book with the first-person singular pronoun I... and I've already broken that promise four times—five if you count the pronoun myself, which the Oxford American Dictionary defines as "corresponding to I and me." An unpromising sign.

You got that right, Lipton! But it truly does get better from there. It kind of has to, right?

April may be the cruelest month to Eliot, but to me it's the kindest, with the portents of spring, which is crammed with beginnings. Of holidays, I enjoy Memorial Day because it officially begins the pleasant summer season, and dislike Labor Day because it ends it. Thanksgiving is welcome because it begins the Christmas season, of which I confess to being inordinately fond and I'm resistant to the compulsory joy of New Year's Eve, because it ends it.

This affection for beginnings has had a predictable effect on my preferences. Though I should know better than to invite comparison with my betters as I begin my own literary effort, I confess to unbridled admiration for the blunt simplicity of "Call me Ishmael"; the instant dramatic engagement of "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"; the authorial certainty of "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way": the ringing challenge of Donne's "Go and catch a falling star/Get with child a mandrake root": the quiet fury of Yeats's "Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon can not hear the falconer;/Things fall apart; the center cannot hold": the stately opening chords of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, which greet us not with the C-major tonic but with a submediant A minor chord, as if the boat had left the dock without us, and we had no choice but to jump in and swim after it....

Only 490 pages to go! Join us next time in Inside Inside Inside as James Lipton discusses the working of his prostate, Barbra Streisand's love of Kit Kats and how one affects the other.