Review: ‘I’m Sorry You Feel That Way’ by Diana Joseph

by Kim on April 28, 2011 · 11 comments

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Title: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way: The Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog
Author: Diana Joseph
Genre: Memoir
Year: 2009/2010
Acquired: Purchased
Rating: ★★★½☆

Review: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way is a memoir — series of essays, really — about a woman told through the relationships with the men in her life. Through essays about her son, father, first husband, second husband, friend, and the Satanist that lives downstairs (among others), Diana Joseph explores what its like to be a women based on the different relationships she has with men.

I was a little skeptical of that concept — it seemed somehow problematic for a woman to write a book defining herself against the men in her life, you know? However, the book was much more about relationships than it was about Joseph or the different ment, and in that way I liked the concept and the book very much.

Consequently, I thought the book was most successful when Joseph keeps the essay focused on the relationship rather than shifting too far to just herself. I loved the first essay, “Tongue Twister, Tongue Tied,” about growing up with her father and how he formed her ideas about other men. A later essay, about the aforementioned Satanist, works less because Joseph spends too much time talking about her relationship to religion rather than the man. It feels forced and unfaithful to the premise of the book, which doesn’t work for me.

The book shifts quickly and effortlessly between very funny and very sad moments. One essay that sticks out is in “It’s Me. It’s Him. It’s Them.” which is about Joseph’s friend Andrew, whom she thinks is a “pervert” for a variety of (I think) funny reasons. After exploring her relationship with him, Joseph shifts the essay to her life as a teenager, being harassed by older men because her body matured earlier than she did — all topics related to how she feels about Andrew. She closes the essay with this:

Do I wear a shirt that’s big, bulky, baggy, or do I wear a shirt that clings? Do I hide my body under sweaters and sweatshirts and jackets or do I let the world know I’m female and as a female, I have breasts? Why do I feel so self-conscious anytime I wear a color other than black? Do I want to be looked at or not?

I don’t know.

It’s me. It’s them. It’s me. It’s Andrew. It’s me. It’s you. It’s any man with greedy eyes. I’ve never stopped wanting to kick you in the nuts. Hard. When you least expect it.

Other than the obviously impressive writing — rhythmic, emotional, and specific — I like the way she ends the essay with something bigger than just her and Andrew, but what the people like Andrew might mean to other women.

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way was an enjoyable way for me to start the Read-a-Thon a couple weeks ago. The majority of the essays were funny and smart, without being too preachy or too sensational. It’s not anything that will change your life, but it was a nice way to spend a morning.

Other Reviews: The Book Lady’s Blog | The Girl from the Ghetto | Trees and Ink | BookSpin

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

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