Reviews for Cynthia Kaplan,
Leave the Building Quickly,
Why I'm Like This
Leave the Building Quickly
"What is more life-affirming than the ability to laugh at oneself? In her second
collection of true stories (after Why I'm Like This, 2002), writer and actress Kaplan
once again taps into the self-deprecation vein—to wise, poignant, and often hilarious effect.
Although her family may not be as nutty as David Sedaris', and she doesn't embrace Jesus with
the zeal of Anne Lamott (Kaplan is Jewish, though increasingly skeptical about her faith), she
knows how to turn random happenings into moments of revelation. Kaplan tackles topics both large
and small, from a good friend succumbing to cancer to the uncoolest of family vacations aboard a
Disney cruise. Copping an attitude, coping with an unpronounceable lung ailment, negotiating with
her horny husband about postpregnancy sex—it's all fodder for Kaplan, whose deadpan humor speaks
to the neurotic in us all. Some entries are better than others, but at her best, as in 'Losing
My Religion,' Kaplan serves perfectly mixed narratives that are one part melancholy, two parts wry."
"A word of caution about this wonderful, witty little collection of
essays: Don't read it while drinking ice tea. I did and got so
blindsided by Kaplan's no-holds-barred wit, I began convulsing with
laughter while snorting tea through my nose. This collection is
raucously funny, extremely personal and always on target. [Leave the
Building Quickly] is an honest look at daily life in America and
makes for perfect summer reading."
"Kaplan writes from the heart so that you can't help but
empathize... in [Leave the Building Quickly], stories about the
death of a friend, a grandmother's Alzheimer's, or post-baby sex
(or lack there-of), the humor and the hardship come through. And
when she writes about being a teenager who didn't stand out, who
was ever eager to please, it reads like it might have been true,
not an adopted nerd-chic facade. And yet, she makes her
adolescent averageness seem so appealing that you'll want to meet
her. You don't find many comics who can find humor in lack of
conflict... It's high time those of us who grew up as goody-two-
shoes got a hilarious advocate."
"I met Cynthia a few years ago when we sat on a panel together. I loved the way she talked. Maybe it was all those years of reciting pork loins and hangar steaks, but she's articulate and charming on stage. But then I read her books - and she's an even better writer than she is a talker. This is a great and funny collection. These essays range in topic from smacking a deer with her car, to fat asses, to the existence of God. They are personal and universal at the same time. They are hilarious. And they are beautifully structured."
—A. J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically
"I recently finished reading Leave the Building Quickly, her latest collection of laugh-out-loud essays... Kaplan has a gift for recounting stories from her life in a way that will make you snort milk from your nose."
—Atlanta Sunday Paper
"In Leave the Building Quickly, Cynthia Kaplan offers off-kilter
observations by mining the mundane of her own life: her son's terror of fire alarms and her
vacation on a dreadful Disney cruise. It's a gift to take the daily humiliations of life and
make them funny. When Kaplan is the close friend you allow to dissect her life and yours with
"It would be hard not to be moved by the wit, flow, pace, and
honesty... in [Leave the Building Quickly]. The tone is strong
throughout... mostly when Kaplan gets out her pixels and savages
those near and dear to her. Her essay upbraiding a supposed
mentor is a classic of vitriol that should be copied and pasted on
the walls of every aspiring writer, writing school class, and
stationary store in Manhattan and most of Brooklyn... her voice is so
rich and the humor so pointed. In short, good clean/messy fun."
"In her second book, Cynthia Kaplan adds heft to her humor, and joins the ranks of the great New Yorkers before her who have elevated neurosis to an art form...
If anything, she is stronger in [Leave the Building Quickly], perhaps emboldened by previous success, a few more years of life experience, or the screw-'em-all
exhaustion of parenting two young children... Kaplan's writing is consistently clever and insightful. I'd hate her guts except that I want to be her best friend."
"Five things we can't live without this week: 4. Leave the Building Quickly. Cynthia Kaplan's entertaining, and sometimes touching, true-story collection includes recounts of a Disney Cruise from hell and her run-in with a deer, as well
as a story about the American Express card she gave her grandmother. Get it."
"Actress and comedian Kaplan's musings on her life are hysterically funny. Her take on sex after childbirth alone is worth the price of the book. But she also reveals phobias, sibling relationships, in-laws, friends, baring her soul as she examines each.
She's the woman we would all like to call our best friend—her sense of humor is enough to keep us laughing through the worst of times."
—The Inkslinger, Salt Lake City, Utah
"Kaplan's first book got me through my first few weeks of graduate school, and her second through a recent plane flight. Reading her discussion on fear of flying might not have helped, but then, it might. She writes about things that make you feel self-conscious, like how she and her brother
didn't really talk growing up, or how no one kissed her in high school. If you want light, dry, and slightly neurotic, it's all here. Also, read her first
—Third Place Books
Why I'm Like This
"Striking a note somewhere between David Sedaris and Anna Quindlen, Kaplan spins traumas personal and professional for maximum laughs...
a literary star."
"Knee slapping hilarious... Fans of David Sedaris or Anne Lamott will appreciate (Kaplan's) quirky way of looking at life's
"Quick-witted, neatly written and unapologetically grandiose... in the spirit of Dorothy Parker...
(Why I'm Like This) renders weird and rowdy scenarios with style."
—The New York Times
"Alternately hilarious and poignant, these stories make you laugh and then cry...
Kaplan has a great ear for the spoken word, the cadence of modern speech. Many of the stories demand to be read out loud."
—The Boston Globe
"A fresh voice with a bright future."
"... Kaplan goes straight to the funny heart of things... I can't imagine a mother who wouldn't die laughing..."
—The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Kaplan is smart, funny, brave, and totally original. It's an amazing collection, one you'll want to read again and
pass on to all of your friends. You'll think you're reading David Sedaris; it's that good."
"Journalist Cynthia Kaplan's debut book, Why I'm Like This, is a collection of personal essays that are as funny as they are poignant.
If you're into funny family stories, personal observations and hyper-precise illustrations of growing pains, she's your lady."
"Why I'm Like This is an impressive debut and Kaplan has a wonderfully natural comic style."
—The Detroit Free Press
"This is a charming collection of essays in the spirit of David Sedaris... The essays read like a novel—when
you've reached the end you'll feel like you've grown up with her."
—The CBS Early Show
"...It's not the humorous stories that stay with you after you've read Why I'm Like This.
It's the heartfelt accounts of the ups and downs of day-to-day life that catch you off-guard and make you shake your head with recognition...
There are wonderfully rich and tender epiphanies."
—The San Francisco Chronicle
"A perfect beach read. Kaplan's collection of autobiographical essays are heartfelt and laugh-out-loud funny."
—The Buffalo News' August's Book of the Month
"Nightmarish and hilarious... written with such fierce denial and tenderness (Why I'm Like This) made me cry out loud."
—Chicago Public Radio's Network Chicago
"Kaplan makes it perfectly clear why she's like this—with an acerbic grace all her own...
Even if where she's taking you is someplace you've yet to arrive or will never go in her capacity, you will feel as if you are there alongside her...
She's that good... When you finish this quick read you'll crave more of her hilarious essays."
— The News Enterprise-Hardin County, Kentucky
"... Kaplan consistently amuses while cutting surprisingly deep."
"A fine achievement, Why I'm Like This will reach a wide and appreciative audience."
—Midwest Book Review
"...funny and poignant."
"(One of) America's 9 Funniest Writers...A spot-on favorite with women who grew up during the '60s and '70s,
Kaplan at her best reads like a black-market episode of The Wonder Years..."
—Southwest Airlines Spirit
"...a self-assured, unified work that's sexy in the best sense: mature, candid and real. Often compared to David Sedaris,
the actress/writer combines droll humor with hard-won sentiment..."
"...what makes her true stories so compulsively readable is Kaplan's razor-sharp prose and contagious sense of humor...
Kaplan's writing is laugh-out-loud funny. Right up there with non-fiction writers such as David Sedaris and Cynthia Heimel."
"With her unique brand of humane observation and wit, Kaplan has written a book for the ages, a book that will no doubt be passed on,
from hand to hand, in family after family, by people who recognize some heretofore-unearthed part of their own history or selves in the stories she tells."
—Beth Kephart, author of A Slant of Sun
"Funny, sweet, weirdly life-affirming and painfully true... Cindy Kaplan's prose generates the rarest kind of laughter—the kind that
makes you cringe in recognition, then thank the writing gods that somebody else out there gets it."
—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight and Plainclothes Naked
"Cynthia Kaplan is so delightful a writer, so funny and smart and tart, I'm sure her family won't even notice that she's turned on them."
—Dorothy Gallagher, author of How I Came Into My Inheritance
"If you have a best friend who is the funniest person you know, who you call just to cheer yourself up, her name must be Cynthia Kaplan.
The rest of us can happily make due with reading this delightful book."
—Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter
"Cynthia Kaplan's gift is her ability to take on life's absurdities and come out a winner. Her stories are sharp,
touching and deliciously ironic... a rollicking tour through the wild and crazy landscape of today's world."
—Debra Ginsberg, author of Waiting and Raising Blaze