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May 2022

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Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gasby

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People who like memoirs, especially ones that go in unexpected places.

In a nutshell:
Comedian Hannah Gadsby tells of her life growing up in Tasmania, her career in comedy, and how she built her one-of-a-kind show Nanette.

Worth quoting:
“The lies of a vulnerable minority should never have been put into the hands of the majority in a media landscape that is all too happy to be powered by the fumes of a toxic debate.”

“I find joy in my life where I once couldn’t because I was too busy trying to do the ‘right’ thing instead of checking in with my own needs first.”

Why I chose it:
I’m a fan of Gadsby’s comedy, and the way she constructs a show.

Review:
In this memoir, Gadsby shares so much of her life, and she does so in an interesting way. I read a LOT of memoirs, and this is one that took me a bit by surprise. It shouldn’t have, but it did. Like much of her comedy, Gadsby’s book is clever, intelligent, unique and unexpected.

The entire section about the 1990s is really well done, with each year discussed in a clever way highlighting things that happened that year in Australia and worldwide, as well as in her life. As someone completely unfamiliar with Australian politics, I appreciated hearing her take on things, and how the debate over the right for gay people to live their lives without prosecution, and then the right for people to marry who they loved, and how that deeply impacted her as a queer person.

She shares her trauma, but it isn’t traumatic, if that makes sense. She doesn’t provide detail unless she needs to. As always, she is careful with her words and edits where its needed.

I started the book and read the first couple of chapters but then put it down for a month. It’s a long book, and while its so well-written, it wasn’t an easy read. Then yesterday, which was a holiday here in the UK, I decided to finish it. I read basically all day, and I finished it, and I think that was the best way to take it in. All in one or two sittings. Some books lend themselves easily to chapter by chapter; I think this one is best when the reader can really dive into Gadsby’s story.

Something to note, which again, shouldn’t be a surprise. My partner was sitting next to me basically the entire time I was reading the book, and when I finished, he commented that I didn’t laugh at all while reading it. And it is true that I didn’t laugh out loud because it’s not a funny memoir. There are parts where I chuckled inside – I mean, Gadsby is brilliant, and that translates well to the page – but this is not a funny book. It is a serious memoir that takes on serious topics.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
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