Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years

Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years

From the creator of the iconic "Cathy" comic strip comes her first collection of funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls "the panini generation."As the creator of "Cathy," Cathy Guisewite found her way into the hearts of readers more than forty years ago, and has been there ever since. Her hilarious and deeply rela...

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Title:Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years
Author:Cathy Guisewite
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Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years Reviews

  • Tucker

    “Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault” is one of my favorite books so far this year and I’m confident it will be one of my best books for all of 2019. Cathy Guisewite’s essays about being in the sandwich (or panini generation as she aptly calls it) were poignant, endearing, heartwarming, and hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I actually laughed out loud while reading a book, but “Fifty Things” was truly that kind of funny. And there were tears too, tears of recognition and understanding.

    “Thi

    “Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault” is one of my favorite books so far this year and I’m confident it will be one of my best books for all of 2019. Cathy Guisewite’s essays about being in the sandwich (or panini generation as she aptly calls it) were poignant, endearing, heartwarming, and hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I actually laughed out loud while reading a book, but “Fifty Things” was truly that kind of funny. And there were tears too, tears of recognition and understanding.

    “This is my whole life not fitting. My days are too short, my lists are too long. People aren’t where they’re supposed to be. Everything’s changing without my permission. Children are moving away, friends moving on, loved ones leaving the earth, muscles and skin tone not even pausing to wave farewell before deserting me—and after all I’ve done for them. Just when I think I can’t possibly stand one more goodbye, something or someone I thought would be here forever isn’t. Everyone I know is in some version of a great big life shift. Right in the middle of people and things that are changing and disappearing way too fast. An unrequested rearrangement of everything in our personal worlds—as if there isn’t enough that feels out of our control right now in the big world. It’s unsettling and unnerving. And scary. Impossible to be everything to everyone, to reconcile all that’s different, and to keep track of ourselves along that way.”

    Whether she was writing about the challenges and humor in dieting and finding clothes that fit real bodies, trying to help her aging parents and her teenage daughter through the transitions they are going through, the new life that arises when retirement begins, or decluttering and organizing, it was as if she was writing specifically about my life. I was calling friends and family to quote sections of the book I particularly loved and which really resonated with me. Then I realized I was calling too many people too often, so I just bought them their own copies instead. (I’ve received some wonderful thank you notes!) “Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault” is a book I’m highly recommending to everyone, especially to all those “paninis” out there.

  • Suzze Tiernan

    I loved everything about this book of essays from Cathy Guisewite, creator of the Cathy comic strip. I’ve went through all the same life stages as her, and laughed out loud constantly. Highly recommended!!

  • Monnie

    I'm not sure which I did more of while reading this wonderful book: chuckle out loud or wipe away tears. It helps, I suppose, that I was a huge fan of the author's long-running "Cathy" comic strip. Perhaps more important, while I'm older than she is by nine years, I, too, was a champion of the feminist movement (still am, as is she) and was for a time sandwiched in between parents and a daughter, all of whom were growing old, and up, way too fast. Sadly, my parents are gone now - and my daughter

    I'm not sure which I did more of while reading this wonderful book: chuckle out loud or wipe away tears. It helps, I suppose, that I was a huge fan of the author's long-running "Cathy" comic strip. Perhaps more important, while I'm older than she is by nine years, I, too, was a champion of the feminist movement (still am, as is she) and was for a time sandwiched in between parents and a daughter, all of whom were growing old, and up, way too fast. Sadly, my parents are gone now - and my daughter has become the "stuff" inside the Oreo of life, caught between a grown daughter of her own and her aging parents (which, Lord help us, means me and my husband).

    In any event, oh, how I can relate - and I'm quite sure all but teenybopper females will do so as well. These essays were written, Guisewite says, at a time when she's trying to "declutter" her own life (hmmm, I'm pretty sure that's a word that passed through our daughter's lips last time she popped in for a visit). Feminist though she may be, Guisewite admits to feeling torn between Betty Crocker and Betty Friedan (conjuring up decades-ago memories of whipping up a casserole for my family to eat while I attended a Gloria Steinem lecture). I choked with laughter - and frustration - as she recounted getting "stuck" in a sports bra; as a gym newbie, I can tell you it's not fun (though worse, perhaps, is the embarrassment over having to call someone to your rescue). And before I caved and joined the gym, I, too, resisted the call to exercise, rationalizing that "I exercised yesterday and I don't look any different."

    There are far too many other shared feelings and experiences to mention here (especially since I don't want to spoil the fun for other readers). In the end, she sums up the dilemma we're in perfectly: "My whole generation is reeling from the stunning truth - that we, who are way too young and hip to ever look or act old, are not too young to pass away." Aha - maybe that's why I glance proudly at the year-old Aristocat tattoo on the top of my flip-flop clad foot as I open the morning newspaper first to the obituaries pages. Torn indeed!

    In short, I love, love, love this book - highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy.

  • David Wineberg

    was a four panel daily comic strip, when newspaper comic strips were in their prime. Cathy Guisewite, its creator, did that job, alone in a room, for 34 years. Now, she has written

    , a comic strip in prose. This time it is really and specifically autobiographical.

    The book gives Guisewite the ability to broaden her stories, build up to her punchlines , and most of all, expose her humanity. Because

    is nothing if not a summary of all the internal

    was a four panel daily comic strip, when newspaper comic strips were in their prime. Cathy Guisewite, its creator, did that job, alone in a room, for 34 years. Now, she has written

    , a comic strip in prose. This time it is really and specifically autobiographical.

    The book gives Guisewite the ability to broaden her stories, build up to her punchlines , and most of all, expose her humanity. Because

    is nothing if not a summary of all the internal conflicts humans are capable of. The central column of the book, and the source of all her angst, is the three generation spread between her, her 19 year old daughter, and her 90 year old parents. Out of that Guisewite reaps a bounty of hypocrisy, irrationality, gullibility and most of all, self-consciousness.

    She is self-conscious about her looks, her clothing, her size, her shape, her relationships to all three generations, and how she has, despite all efforts to the contrary, proven to be normal. She fights with her daughter, slamming her for every little thing, knowing all the while it is precisely the wrong thing to be doing. She interferes with her parents, who, after 90 years, know who they are and how they want to live. That is, without middle–aged daughters telling them to clear out the house, rearrange their belongings, move into assisted living, use medic alarm necklaces and other bothers to make their three daughters feel less burdened and guilty.

    There is every possible foible covered in depth and with humor, from the gym to the mall, from child rearing to separation anxiety, from junk accumulation to more separation anxiety. She knows what’s wrong in every case, and in every case she goes ahead anyway. The contradictions are endless, and if there is a point to it all, it is that they are also universal.

    Her humor is as delightful as ever. Her stories are beautifully structured with sarcasm, self-contradiction and self-pity. If truth be known, she is actually at fault for most of the fifty things, but it’s okay, we all are.

    I found a line in her story of her probably 2000th trip to the mall that shows how delightful the whole book really is. She says of shopping: “There’s something magical about taking something that isn’t a problem yet home to meet the rest of my life.”

    David Wineberg

  • Donna Davis

    Guisewite began publishing the comic strip “Cathy” in 1976, the year that I graduated high school. It was a time of high expectations for women, and the unrealistic suggestion that we would be able to “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man,” as Madison Avenue decreed, was daunting. Through her sharply perceptive humor, Guisewite let her peers know that it wasn’t just us; we were judging ourselves with an unfair yardstick. She kept it real, and in doing s

    Guisewite began publishing the comic strip “Cathy” in 1976, the year that I graduated high school. It was a time of high expectations for women, and the unrealistic suggestion that we would be able to “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man,” as Madison Avenue decreed, was daunting. Through her sharply perceptive humor, Guisewite let her peers know that it wasn’t just us; we were judging ourselves with an unfair yardstick. She kept it real, and in doing so, kept us sane.

    My thanks go to Net Galley and G.P. Putnam for the review copy.

    So how does cartooning translate to prose? Whereas the cute, punchy single-page entries and single sentence proclamations—and the lists—are her most familiar territory, my favorite parts of this memoir are the least cartoonish ones. Yes, I love the way she takes down the women’s fashion industry and the unhealthy way it affects our body images. She was good at it forty years ago, and she’s good at it now. But the passages that drew me in and let me get lost in her story are the more vulnerable, deeply perceptive parts of the narrative, her fears for her aging parents; the struggle and triumph of raising a daughter, one with special needs, alone; and the failure of her marriage. I am in awe of the fact that she and her ex made each other laugh until the tears came as they planned their divorce. Who does that? And of course, she made me laugh too.

    Guisewite stays inside her usual parameters, never veering outside of the middle class Caucasian realm with which she has experience. Younger women won’t get much joy out of this memoir; women that came of age between 1965 and 1985 are right in her sweet spot, and it is to them that I recommend this book. It’s available now.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Cathy Guisewite, after decades penning the comic strip "Cathy," sets down her ink pen and takes up her word processor. It's a bit disconcerting at first, all the words, no pictures, lots of comedy, but drama, too. The angst is still there, roads untaken, be they the road to a happy marriage or simply the road to a contented hour with a child. If you are a Debbie or a Linda or a Cathy yourself, you will see your life in these pages, wrestling with the issues we women have been asked to take on, c

    Cathy Guisewite, after decades penning the comic strip "Cathy," sets down her ink pen and takes up her word processor. It's a bit disconcerting at first, all the words, no pictures, lots of comedy, but drama, too. The angst is still there, roads untaken, be they the road to a happy marriage or simply the road to a contented hour with a child. If you are a Debbie or a Linda or a Cathy yourself, you will see your life in these pages, wrestling with the issues we women have been asked to take on, career or motherhood, caring for your elderly parents, letting go of our children, marriage and relationships.

    If you have always liked "Cathy" you might like to give Guisewite a chance to share a bit more than she was able to say in a 10 x 14 inch comic strip.

  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    It's easy to forget that comic strip artists are actually writers. They have to come up with a story line that plays out in tiny chapters over a week or more and keeps the audience coming back day after day. Cathy Guisewite quit her comic strip after thirty-four years in 2010. But apparently she kept writing and now we have a collection of essays about adopting and raising her daughter who is now in college, worrying about her parents as they enter their nineties, and mundane things like exercis

    It's easy to forget that comic strip artists are actually writers. They have to come up with a story line that plays out in tiny chapters over a week or more and keeps the audience coming back day after day. Cathy Guisewite quit her comic strip after thirty-four years in 2010. But apparently she kept writing and now we have a collection of essays about adopting and raising her daughter who is now in college, worrying about her parents as they enter their nineties, and mundane things like exercise and diet, marriage and dating, shopping and pets. I've become a skimmer in recent years but I read this entire book cover to cover. I look forward to more essays from Guisewite. (Thanks to Penguin First to Read for a review download.)

  • Robin

    If you are a fan of daily newspaper comics (for those who remember reading a physical newspaper), and you're in a certain age group (I'm in my 50s), you may recall a character in a strip called "Cathy." The strip depicts the life of a single woman, unsolicited advice from her mom and the unfailing affection of her little dog.

    This book is a collection of essays written by the strip's creator reflecting on her life in recent years. She shares what it's like having a college-age daughter and aging

    If you are a fan of daily newspaper comics (for those who remember reading a physical newspaper), and you're in a certain age group (I'm in my 50s), you may recall a character in a strip called "Cathy." The strip depicts the life of a single woman, unsolicited advice from her mom and the unfailing affection of her little dog.

    This book is a collection of essays written by the strip's creator reflecting on her life in recent years. She shares what it's like having a college-age daughter and aging parents. We relate to her experience in the dressing room trying to find jeans and her struggles with food.

    Even if you've never seen the comic strip, this is a great read. Alternating between funny and serious, it's heartfelt and I look forward to sharing this with patrons when it's published this spring.

  • Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell

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    Ultimately, feminism is about empowering women and providing them with the agency to not just make their choices, but to make those choices in an environment where their opportunities for success and for failure in all domains are equal to those of other genders. People have a lot of ideas about what is and isn't feminist and often, things like the

    comics and books like BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY are placed firmly in the "isn't" category.

    H

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    Ultimately, feminism is about empowering women and providing them with the agency to not just make their choices, but to make those choices in an environment where their opportunities for success and for failure in all domains are equal to those of other genders. People have a lot of ideas about what is and isn't feminist and often, things like the

    comics and books like BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY are placed firmly in the "isn't" category.

    Here's the thing: while it's important to fight for what we don't have, and provide opportunities for women and normalize traditionally non-feminine careers, lifestyles, and choices for women (or those who choose to identify as women at any given time), there are a lot of women who like "girly" things. And even as we fight for change, the grim reality is that a lot of us often feel trapped or bound by the constraints of our gender norms. So yes, even though we shouldn't stress about fitting into a size 12, or obsess over the jerks who don't call us after three days, we

    .

    Part of what I've always enjoyed about BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY and the

    comics is that these stories

    the struggles of what it's like to be a woman in society, trying - and often failing - to play by society's rules

    women while also sort of thumbing their noses at them, in an, "Oh, I'm stressed, you're stressed, but it's okay" way. Even as a high school student, there was a lot to relate to in

    . I think a lot of women felt the same way, especially since the

    comics were being published at a time when there really weren't a lot of comic strips specifically aimed at young-to-middle-aged women struggling to make it.

    The strips were in syndication for over thirty years, until the creator, Cathy Guisewite, retired about a decade ago. When I saw an ARC for her memoir was available, I grabbed at it, because I'm super nosy and I love seeing what my favorite creators or celebrities are up to when they're not in the limelight (I don't know what you'd call the off-screen time - orangelight? pineapplelight?). I want to see them in the

    . And this memoir seemed like the perfect pineapplelight.

    FIFTY THINGS THAT AREN'T MY FAULT serves as a kind of "where is she now?" expose on the Cathy creator, post-retirement. Now in middle age, she is a full time mother to a college-age daughter who no longer needs her, and a full time caretaker to nonagenarian parents who do not want her help. While fretting over family, aging, and health, Guisewite also goes back to basics with essays on the frustrations of having an entire closet of jeans that don't fit, and the sheer ridiculousness of the weight put on women's appearances to the point that we have to do different makeup for all sorts of different events and have fifty different variations on a white shirt, whereas men can just show up, clean-faced.

    People who pick up this memoir looking for comedy are going to be disappointed, however. The humor here is much darker and sadder than in the

    comics, and there's a bitterness here that has replaced the jaded hopefulness of the

    comics. It also dishes out some pretty hardcore Truth Sandwiches™ alongside some tall glasses of Suck It Up Buttercup Fizzy Cola ™, so beware.

    P.S. There are fun doodles in the chapter headings and paragraph breaks.

    2.5 to 3 stars

  • Tiffany PSquared

    If you can get through the first couple of chapters while maintaining a positive attitude, you just might end up liking this book. I was nervous at first- it had the potential to become one big 300-plus-page gripe fest. But Guisewite saves it by being entirely, humorously candid and displaying all her jagged faults- even the ones we've tried to hide in ourselves.

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