Book Review: People are Unappealing (Even Me) by Sara Barron

people are unappealing
New York writer and comedian, Sara Barron, grew with a hypochondriac mother and gay acting straight dad (he sings Broadway showtunes). So it’s only fitting Barron would grow up to write the very funny People are Unappealing-Even Me: True Stories of Our Collective Capacity to Irritate and Annoy.

People are Unappealing covers the first thirty years of young Barron’s life in self-deprecating, mortifying, embarrassing and somewhat crude essays. Barron talks about her youth in suburban Chicago where she first made her way into acting, pursuing her bachelor’s degree at NYU to her post-college struggles as a mostly out of work actress toiling at bad service jobs.

Barron is not shy about revealing some of the not-so-cool aspects of her young life. During a school break, Barron comes across a spiral notebook filled with porn-inspired stories she titled simply “The Porn.” “The Porn” may not be most sexy erotica ever written, but it is certainly the most hilarious. A pubescent Barron mistakenly thought having an erection meant a guy couldn’t have sex, and she spelled penis as “pienus.” Her attempts at writing porn also gives whole new meaning to the phrase, “Virginia is for Lovers.”

Barron also tells us about her brother discovering their grandmother’s vibrator and about the shame she feels about her FUPA. What’s a FUPA you ask? Well, you have to read the book to find out. And Barron doesn’t feel any shame about sharing with her readers about an injury she incurred from too much masturbation.

Don’t worry. People are Unappealing isn’t totally sex-drenched. Barron parlays her fine arts degree not to fame and fortune on the Broadway stage or on a Hollywood set, but to folding sweaters at Banana Republic and serving bread sticks at Olive Garden. She suffers a mercifully short stint at the Coyote Ugly bar (yep, the one from the movie). She also encounters one of her favorite rock stars at a high-class eatery. Sadly, he proves to be a total jerk, and Barron bestows a less-than-flattering nickname on him. She never names him, but rumor has it the rock star in question is Michael Stipe.

Barron’s personal life is also a continual embarrassment. Dealing with the opposite sex often doesn’t seem worth it, but Barron gives it her best, even trying Internet dating. On one blind date, she leaves her date in a lurch. Why? Well, probably because he’s a little person. One of her ex-boyfriends ends up as a clown. Yes, he’s actually working as a clown. When it comes to hanging out the girls, Barron starts to kiss up to a thinly-veiled Paris Hilton after a brief meeting when Paris actually acknowledges her presence. Yes, some of us are desperate for the glitter dust of fame to rub off on us even if it comes from a total slag.

People are Unappealing is sharply-written and rife with hilarity. If you read this book in public don’t be surprised if you startle on-lookers from your stifled laughter. Unfortunately, the book ends much to soon, leaving you wanting more. Sara Barron is definitely a writer to keep one’s eye on. I hope she keeps meeting unappealing people.