People who don't have embarrassing stories are untrustworthy. Or at the very least, they aren't telling the truth. -- Suzanne Guillette
By your own definition, you are very, very trustworthy. After all, you are the kind of person who spills pasta sauce down the shirt of a famous writer you're trying to impress. You are the girl who, when taking a new mentor out for a fancy lunch, forgets to bring cash -- or a backup credit card. You are almost thirty, an unemployed writer, recently un-engaged from your fiancŽ of several years, and in all your naivetŽ can't foresee that mixing the personal and the professional will bring you mortifyingly disastrous results.
You are Suzanne Guillette, the author of Much to Your Chagrin, a smart, hilarious memoir of how chronicling the humiliations of others helped her come to understand and accept herself.
Guillette was twenty-nine and the proud owner of a freshly inked MFA when she began to work on her first book -- a collection of embarrassing moments gathered from family, friends, coworkers, and strangers on the street. Stories poured in about every possible type of gaffe, from wardrobe malfunctions (widespread) to romantic misunderstandings (ditto), and from office faux pas (common) to bodily fluid mishaps (distressingly common). Everyone Guillette talked to was enthusiastic about her clever project -- and no one more so than Jack, the wry, handsome literary agent who Guillette thought might just be her soul mate.
But as time marched on, Guillette began to see that the tales she'd been gathering were nothing compared to her own moments of shame. Like her increasingly frequent need to sneak out of work (at a health agency, natch) for a "quick smoke" to settle her nerves. Or her stubborn ability to ignore the reality that her fairy-tale romance with Jack was imploding in a truly spectacular fashion. When Guillette accepted that the story she was meant to tell was not others' but her own, Much to Your Chagrin was born.
Told in a unique and captivating voice, punctuated by the embarrassing stories she collected, Much to Your Chagrin follows one woman's discovery of what it's like to finally feel comfortable in your own skin (even while accidentally exposing yourself to your elderly neighbors). Raw, honest, and brilliantly funny, it is an extremely personal memoir about the lengths to which we human beings sometimes go to conceal the parts of ourselves that we are least willing to admit are true. Forget the stuff we keep from the world -- it's what we hide from ourselves that is of greatest consequence.
"A steadily absorbing, delightfully if squeamishly honest memoir, no less comic than it is melancholy, it demonstrates with great effect that to be human is to be sadly mistaken. The real scandal, the real embarrassment, this book beautifully reveals, is discovering what a stranger one is to oneself." -- Phillip Lopate, author of Two Marriages
"Much to Your Chagrin is the most unique memoir I've ever read...You will read it in one gulp, frantically turning the pages as if your life depends on them (and perhaps it does). Of Suzanne Guillette, you will say, repeatedly, 'I cannot believe she just admitted that.' You will say, 'How does she know exactly what it's like to be me?' Until she reaches the finish line, you will cheer wildly with the desperate conviction that her ability to make sense of her own struggles will allow you to make sense of your own. This book is absolutely essential." -- Diana Spechler, author of Who by Fire
"Guillette's choice to write her memoir in the second person is a bold move -- but one that pays off in rewarding and unexpected ways. In creating a bit of distance from the reader, she is able to achieve a surprising intimacy." -- Cathy Alter, author of Up for Renewal
"This is a delightful, laugh-out-loud ride through some really embarrassing stories, and it'll make you feel a hundred times better about your own embarrassing stories!" -- Touré, author of Never Drank the Kool-Aid
"Much To Your Chagrin is...beautifully written and compulsively readable, and it begins with a familiar trope: a pretty, ambitious young woman meets a powerful man and attraction sparks. We all know how the story should end, because we've heard it a thousand times, but once the stage is set, Suzie embarks on a much more ambitious project--showing how that familiar romantic comedy scenario actually plays out in real life, in raw and searing detail. She offers us a critique of all the false stories we've ever been told about love--but she offers it in the bravest, simplest, and most dangerous way possible: by telling the truth about her own story." -- Carey Wallace, author of The Blind Contessa's New Machine
"Much to Your Chagrin is entertaining and engaging and makes you fervently wish to never be the person who flashes her elderly neighbors or poops on the front seat of her car." -- Venus Zine
"Guillette's book is more than just the story of one woman's success over a personal crisis, it is a fingerprint of a moment in time and a mirror in which readers, men and women alike, can peer into to see reflections of their own lives." -- PopMatters.com