Title: My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
Author: Chelsea Handler
Publication Year: 2005
Pages: 213 (6 hrs 14 mins)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Audiobook purchased from Audible (narrated by Cassandra Campbell)
From the cover:
You’ve either done it or know someone who has: the one-night stand, the familiar outcome of a night spent at a bar, sometimes the sole payoff for your friend’s irritating wedding, or the only relief from a disastrous vacation. Often embarrassing and uncomfortable, occasionally outlandish, but most times just a necessary and irresistible evil, the one-night stand is a social rite as old as sex itself and as common as a bar stool.
Enter Chelsea Handler. Gorgeous, sharp, and anything but shy, Chelsea loves men and lots of them. My Horizontal Life chronicles her romp through the different bedrooms of a variety of suitors, a no-holds-barred account of what can happen between a man and a sometimes very intoxicated, outgoing woman during one night of passion. From her short fling with a Vegas stripper to her even shorter dalliance with a well-endowed little person, from her uncomfortable tryst with a cruise ship performer to her misguided rebound with a man who likes to play leather dress-up, Chelsea recalls the highs and lows of her one-night stands with hilarious honesty. Encouraged by her motley collection of friends (aka: her partners in crime) but challenged by her family members (who at times find themselves a surprise part of the encounter), Chelsea hits bottom and bounces back, unafraid to share the gritty details. My Horizontal Life is one guilty pleasure you won’t be ashamed to talk about in the morning.
Last week, Audible.com had a “paperback sale”, which basically meant that they had selected audiobooks on sale for the price of an average paperback. This is one of the books I bought during that sale; I had seen it before, it looked interesting, and I figured … why not?
Well, I’ll tell you why not: My Horizontal Life was – at best – mildly entertaining, and – at worst – occasionally offensive.
This book is basically a memoir of anecdotes that span Handler’s life in varying intervals, starting when she was 6 years old and one of her sisters paid her to sneak into their parents’ room and take a picture of them having sex. Most of the book, however, is about her seemingly endless string of one-night-stands, interspersed with a (very occasional!) “real” relationship. The majority of these relationships are just as mindlessly based on sex as the one night stands, though. I started out somewhat enjoying this book, but I liked it less and less as it went on.
Honestly, My Horizontal Life could have been good if the stories were all meant to be funny because something silly happened, or simply because of innocent drunkenness. Sadly though, that wasn’t the case – a lot of Handler’s stories were meant to be funny because of the way she insulted the person she was trying to have sex with, or had already had sex with, or some variation on that theme. She seemed to think that by playing up her drinking habits and her philosophies on sex, she was making her life – don’t forget, this is non-fiction! – more interesting to the reader, when all I really felt for her was an increasing disgust.
The title was what really intrigued me about this book, and I have to say that it was a bit misleading. Yes, the book was about a series of one-night-stands in Handler’s life, but the focus wasn’t really on the sex. It was more focused on the before and after of the sexual experiences (or attempts or non-attempts), and particularly on mocking the men who she was trying to hook up with. If Handler wanted to write a book about the shortcomings of all the men she’s met in her life, she should’ve titled it differently … because that’s all this was.
My Horizontal Life would have been a whole lot better if it was actually a comedic narrative based on a string of one-night-stands – which is what the title and description would leave you to believe.
Sadly, though, that wasn’t the case. Instead, this book just felt insulting, offensive, and childish.