Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
When I first read this irreverent, eye-opening memoir in 2009 it had a different and I think slightly better title, The Worst Date Ever: War Crimes, Hollywood Heart-Throbs and Other Abominations, but after reading a review of it in the Sunday Times Literary Supplement I had to order my copy from Amazon.UK because it wasn’t out in the US. Now with this revised title it’s available stateside, and after scan reading through an advanced review copy of the new version it looks like it’s largely the same lively fantastic book. The changes I saw are all minor: a few chapter names are different, there is an updated timeline at the end, and a glossary has been included to explain Brit-speak to us Yanks.
Author Jane Bussmann is a comedian and it shows in her very witty writing, but there is some grim material in here and Bussmann manages the quite amazing trick of being both tremendously funny and deadly serious at almost the same time.
As she tells it, Bussmann got tired of hanging around Hollywood during 2003-2006, which she calls the Golden Age of Stupid, interviewing mostly useless (as she calls them) celebrities. Fed up she decides to radically change her life by following a peace negotiator (who’s really cute and certainly very useful) to Uganda so she can write an article about him, but after scraping together the money for a plane ticket he doesn't show up. Not for a month or two anyway--he's back in Hollywood. Bussmann is left to kill time in a cheap Ugandan hostel, so she decides to try doing some investigative fieldwork while she waits for the chance to interview and hopefully date her negotiator. She teaches scriptwriting at an AIDs orphanage, meets numbed victims of the warlord Joseph Kony, and talks to anyone--even very scary people--who might be able to help her figure out why for 25 years the Ugandan army has been unable to prevent Kony from kidnapping children as young as four and forcing them to fight in his militia.
Being a celebrity journalist isn't completely wasted preparation for these adventures. Both smug Hollywood stars and menacing army colonels become friendly and helpful after she asks them her two work-saving Magic Questions--"You're in amazing shape, what's your secret?" and "We all know what you're famous for, but how does it make you feel when you're not appreciated for your inner talents?"
The peace negotiator eventually shows up, but the interview/date she hoped for doesn't work out the way she planned. The resulting book, however, is a great success. The humor, verve, and passion in this mind-blowing account of traipsing around Africa kept me reading into the wee hours of the night, and I’m very glad this memoir is now being released on my side of the Atlantic.
I purchased my own UK copy of this book in 2009, and I read a free advanced review copy of of its updated version provided by the publisher through NetGalley.