Let me be up front here: when I was 9, I had a huge crush on Karen Duffy after seeing her in Blank Check (every kid’s fantasy-fulfillment movie). I then promptly forgot about her until a few years later, when I remember her coming on The Tonight Show and telling Leno about her sarcoidosis of the central nervous system. I then forgot about her again until a couple of week ago at the library, when I saw this book on sale for a dollar. I thought “What the hell,” and picked it up.
I’ll be blunt: Duffy is not an excellent writer. But in that this is her first book and her resumé consists of modeling, a few mediocre movies, being an MTV VJ, reporting for Michael Moore’s TV Nation, and spending a lot of time in the hospital, I didn’t expect her to be eminently qualified for the job. That being said, there’s nothing particularly bad about the book: there are no “dark and stormy night” clichés or the like. I feel, however, not as though I’m reading a well-crafted book, but that I’m reading a transcript of Duffy’s chat session with a friend over coffee.
The structure is what you might expect from a memoir: begin in medias res, introduce the problem, then a considerable amount of backstory, including childhood and some wacky anecdotes, then back to the problem. I should note that sarcoidosis of the central nervous system is very rare, and it’s not something you “cure,” per se. Duffy to this day deals with considerable pain. In that sense, there’s no real resolution or happy ending, but we’re treated to a somewhat stilted journey from the old Karen Duffy to the new, married, much happier Karen Duffy who can write smirking autobiographies. A bit unfulfilling, perhaps, but by no means the worst memoir attempt I’ve ever read.
Were it not for my whimsical history with regards to Duffy, I would have never picked up the book. I can’t say that it holds anything in particular to entice those who may be entirely unfamiliar with her to read it. It seems—at best—a novelty to those of us wondering, “Whatever happened to that girl that [pick one: Dwight Yoakam | George Clooney | Chris Farley | Robert deNiro] used to date?”