book review: When You Lie About Your Age The Terrorists Win

I believe that a vehicle is for getting from point A to point B, not for making point A and point B.

Let’s face it, feminism just isn’t cool anymore. My friend has a daughter who currently goes to Vassar, and in a women’s studies class the professor asked how many students in the room would call themselves feminists—and—three students raised their hands. At Vassar. (And one of them was a guy. At Vassar.)

[writer’s note: I went to Simmons College, Class of 1991, and certainly considered myself a feminist and hardly anyone ‘dared’ called themselves a feminist for fear of the connotations the word provoked. Very sad that things have not changed in nearly twenty years.]

When comedian/writer Carole Leifer [Seinfeld] turned 50, she decided to write down her thoughts and share them in a book. I’m a good 15 years younger than her, so I could relate to some things and other things I’m not quite there yet. I don’t have children. I’m not gay but I have gay friends. I’m not Jewish but spend a lot of time in Brookline, Mass. [I’m sarcastic and from the East Coast] I’m a vegetarian. I’m a feminist and an animal rights activist. I’m liberal. My point is that a good writer will bring you into her world. Leifer succeeds at times and at other times, I just thought she was treading water or re-visiting familiar territory i.e. “I think you can stop. I’ve heard this one before.”

Leifer addresses: hiding your age; cars as “statements”; how she found out she was gay at 40; her love of animals; body changes as one ages; her breast cancer scare; feminism; things men should know; fake breasts; Judaism; her father; New York; being comfortable; doctors; therapists; class reunions; and numerous other age-related and non- age-related topics.

She delves deepest into her relationship with her father. Although he worked as an optometrist, she explains that her father had always wanted to be a comedian. Leifer had been taking adult b’nai mitzvah classes when he died. She still carries around a list of jokes he carried in his wallet. At another point, she addresses when her doctor thought a lump in her breast might be cancerous. She had just started dating her partner Lori and the panic merely strengthened the fledgling relationship. Finally there are the normal trials and tribulations of being part of a couple. Leifer became a vegan, yet Lori continues to eat meat. Leifer wants to be buried in New York, while Lori envisions eternity in her California family crypt. Leifer adds some comedic moments to these serious elements of her life and there are some hits and some misses as with any comedy routine.

I knew Leifer did stand-up and wrote for Seinfeld , dated Jerry Seinfeld back in the day etal. Other than that I didn’t know much about her. I’ve learned a few things from this book but still do not have a strong grasp of her persona. I’m disappointed. I wanted to laugh more I guess and while I got a few chuckles out of it here and there, When you Lie about your Age, the Terrorists Win is not particularly momentous. It is a fast-paced, light read. Much more effort could have gone into this book. The brief chapters read like monologues for, well, a stand-up comedian.

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