The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race

The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race

3.5 2
by Sara Barron
     
 

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Welcome to the perverse and hilarious mind of Sara Barron. In The Harm in Asking, she boldly addresses the bizarre indignities of everyday life: from invisible pets to mobster roommates, from a hatred of mayonnaise to an unrequited love of k.d. lang, from the ruinous side effect of broccoli to the sheer delight of a male catalogue model. In a voice that

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Overview

Welcome to the perverse and hilarious mind of Sara Barron. In The Harm in Asking, she boldly addresses the bizarre indignities of everyday life: from invisible pets to mobster roommates, from a hatred of mayonnaise to an unrequited love of k.d. lang, from the ruinous side effect of broccoli to the sheer delight of a male catalogue model. In a voice that is incisive and entirely her own, Barron proves herself the master of the awkward, and she achieves something wonderful and rare: a book that makes you laugh out loud. Simply put: if you read it, you will never be the same.*

*That's not true. You'll probably stay the same. But you'll have laughed a lot. And you'll have learned a fun fact about Jessica Simpson's home spray. See? You didn't even know she had a home spray! The learning has already begun. 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/31/2014
Comedian Barron (People Are Unappealing) plies her trade in this collection of personal essays, arranged in a loose chronology of her life. In the first essay, "Scrub Toilet Super-Super," Barron recounts the idiosyncratic routine she developed at age ten of locking herself in the bathroom, having a snack on the toilet while talking to her imaginary friends. Another essay describes a summer abroad in France, where Barron pursues a belief that "lesbians were but magical confections that brought joy to all the land" by masturbating to Tilda Swinton. Next comes her New York years, where seemingly every bizarre roommate/unfortunate sex scenario that could possibly happen to a young, plucky, and penniless woman alone in the big city, occurs. The spectrum of life experiences on display is impressive, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments though out the collection. Fans of the Chelsea Handler/Tina Fey awkward-and-unashamed sense of humor will find a kindred spirit. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Harm In Asking

“Whether [Barron is] moving into a friend's walk-in closet because she's priced out of Manhattan real estate, discussing her love of bad music, or going on a hot date at Chipotle, we're lucky to squirm alongside her. . . . Barron makes for great company. The show-stopping penultimate essay alone . . . is worth the price of admission.”—Entertainment Weekly

“If you’re searching for something both well-written and hilarious . . . then this Bud’s for you.”—BUST Magazine

"Sara Barron has a knack for colliding into life's odd characters and sharp corners with hilarious and heartrending results. Here she navigates this journey with the biting humor and telling observation of a born storyteller." –Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison

“Made me laugh so hard, my ribs and sides ached. . . . If Sex in the City had been based on reality, it would have been more like . . . Barron’s book. . . . If you like funny, brutally honest, self-deprecating writers who write about life’s everyday degradations (Barron has been compared to David Sedaris), then you may want to pick up a copy of The Harm in Asking.”—PopMatters.com

"Pick up The Harm In Asking as soon as you can so you can feel like you’re talking to your favorite friend, the one who is not afraid to say salty things and expose her secrets for the joy of watching you respond with a hearty laugh."—HelloGiggles.com 

"There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments thoughout. . . . Fans of the Chelsea Handler/Tina Fey awkward-and-unashamed sense of humor will find a kindred spirit."—Publishers Weekly

“Sara Barron is the reigning queen of New York’s live storytelling scene. In The Harm in Asking she proves she's even better written down." –Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test

Praise for People Are Unappealing

“Sara Barron’s essays . . . are, dare we say it, as funny as David Sedaris . . . When you aren't squirming, you're laughing out loud." –Los Angeles Times

"A wickedly funny and dirty treasure trove of modern day oddballs." –Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake

"Hilarious . . . Sedaris and Crosley come off as adorable children in Barron's presence." –Cleveland Plain Dealer

Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-31
In her second collection of humorous personal essays (People Are Unappealing, 2009), Barron continues to unpack the minutiae of her life. A natural comedian with a penchant for making her audience squirm, Barron regularly hosts events for The Moth, a wildly popular organization that features performances in which randomly chosen people take the stage to recount themed, unscripted stories. The author's writing also possesses that quality; each of the essays in her new collection is told in a voice that resembles an off-the-cuff monologue. In the middle of one piece, for instance, she writes, "First off, let me say…," and another essay opens with this line: "Although I myself have never married, I know a few women who have." Her tone is dry, and her pace is fast. She jumps from subject to subject even more frequently than she has romantic partners, some of whom come across as questionable at best. A longtime resident of New York City, she again proves, in her second autobiographical book, that to her, no topic is off-limits, no matter how offensive, gross or unflattering. She mines her parents and brother for material, the highlight of which is her hilarious description of Barron Family Activity Days; relates a post-college period in which she lived in a gay friend's closet rent-free in exchange for cleaning his apartment; exposes a fling with a female co-worker, to whom she wasn't attracted, that fizzled awkwardly; and details everything leading up to her "rebellion" of choosing not to get a tattoo. Overall, this collection doesn't land as well as its predecessor; the shock of her humor doesn't garner the same level of laughter the second time around, and Barron doesn't demonstrate growth. Still, for fans of mostly funny, embarrassing-for-everyone-involved confessional essays by a single woman in her mid-30s, these pieces may resonate for their gutsy truthfulness and ceaseless levity. Colorful but flippant. Hopefully, Barron will expand her range in her next collection.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307720702
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
03/25/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
748,823
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Videos

Meet the Author

SARA BARRON’S work has appeared in Vanity Fair; on Showtime's This American Life, NPR's Weekend Edition, and Today; and at HBO's Comedy Festival. She is a frequent host of The Moth: True Stories Told Live events. 

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The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hilarious
hmweasley More than 1 year ago
I was interested in this book because I hadn't read much humor before and wanted to try it out. I'd say this book was enjoyable, but I don't think I found it as funny as it was trying to be. There were parts throughout the book where I'd be amused, but I don't think I ever laughed or had a desire to laugh for the majority of the book. The beginning of the book was harder to get through for me than the rest of the book. The primary reason for that is I found the author a bit too annoying to find amusing in the earlier chapters. It wasn't an "I can't stand her" kind of thing, but it definitely was an "I don't really care about reading all of this" thing. Since the stories go more or less in chronological order, the author is younger in the earlier stories, I suppose that can be an excuse for that. I'm not sure if it was maturing as the stories went on or just that I got used to it, but the latter stories didn't have the same sort of annoyance. Overall, I didn't love this book or even "like" it necessarily, but I did think it was okay. Reading it wasn't really a waste of time, and I never considered not finishing it. I think the biggest thing is that the humor in the book is only going to appeal to certain people. It's definitely not a sort of humor that a lot of different people will get amusement out of. I'd recommend checking the book out more before you read it in order to see if it's a type of humor that you would enjoy. I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.