Again, From the Top

In college, I majored in communication, and not the useful, PR kind. I majored in the super academic, “but what does it mean?” kind.

So, between my appreciation for rhetorical, and otherwise, analysis and for British sit-coms, I was instantly drawn to and amused by Richard Ayoade’s Ayoade on TopHowever, the book itself took my interest a step further and even brought in my already established appreciation for the rom-com drama. Simply put, this was a recipe for entertainment.

For me…and hopefully you too. (By the way, here’s my vlog!) So let’s take off.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ayoade, man, you are missing out. I first “met” him in late middle-early high school (about the same time I should have been reading this book!) through the British television sitcom, “The IT Crowd” in which he plays awkward IT guy, Maurice Moss.

Ever since seeing the series, I sometimes find myself reflecting on scenes–and those reflections usually make me giggle. So, when watching numerous Graham Norton clips on YouTube one day (what else are we going to do on this darn quarantine??), I was pleasantly surprised to find that Moss, I mean Ayoade had written a book.

But it’s not just any book, in it, Ayoade explores and analyzes the classic, early-2000s rom-com View From the Top, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and (my favorite, thanks to 13 Going on 30) Mark Ruffalo. Yay analysis and rom-coms!!

But Ayoade doesn’t just analyze the film, he snarkily comments on it and shows moments from his own life which mirror events in the film. Arguing, to my academic ears, that not only is Top a cinematic masterpiece (arguable), but an extended metaphor for most people’s lives.

With that context, I must now make a small confession.

I didn’t read it.

I looked high and low for a hard copy–I tried five different library systems!–but to no avail. So, I ended up listening to it on Audible. The benefit to this was that Ayoade himself got to read the book to me–so there were no questions of inflection and I got the added bonus of additional snark. The downside was that I realized that I don’t really care for audiobooks–I personally find that when I’m expected to just sit and listen to someone for 4.5 hours, I get a little fidgety. Normally, I’d listen to him on my two-hour commute to and from work, when I can’t do anything but sit still for an hour at a time, but I couldn’t even do that… thanks quarantine.

So, my thoughts. I loved it! I thought it was well written and very relatable. I have,, coincidentally seen Top so I definitely remembered the scenes Ayoade deconstructed, which made the experience that much more enjoyable. However, even if you haven’t seen the film, Ayoade’s descriptions (and commentary) are sure to help you see the awkward interactions between Paltrow, Ruffalo, and their costars easily.

I realize that I keep saying “analysis” and “deconstructions,” please do not write this book off because you don’t want to have to think while reading it. It’s not some highly academic piece. More simply, it’s a book that uses a discussion of a particular film as a way to loosely frame a memoir and discuss life–or at least Ayoade’s life.

Without a doubt, if you want to dip your toe into nonfiction, I think this is another good book to start. Even if you don’t care about nonfiction, this is such an amusing book, it’s worth checking out (and if you can’t get a hard copy in a timely manner but have Amazon prime, there is a deal to get the audiobook for a free trial!).

That’s all I have for this week. Look out for my next blog/vlog on Before the Wildflowers Bloom by Tanya Bylinsky Fabian.

Happy Reading!

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