Day 6

New novel co-written by Jim Carrey is bound to be a bestseller. But should you read it?

Canadian actor Jim Carrey has co-authored Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel with Dana Vachon. The semi-autobiographical book can be funny, interesting and touching. But should you read it? Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne gives us her verdict.

'It's kind of a publishing event,' says Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne

Actor Jim Carrey and novelist Dana Vachon are co-authors of Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel, released on July 7. (Austin Hargrave/Jim Carrey)

Jim Carrey's new book Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel was released this week to a lot of buzz — but missing from that buzz were actual book reviews.

"I think this novel is a weird one," said Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne. "It's kind of a publishing event."

Carrey co-authored the book with novelist Dana Vachon. The two spent most of the past decade collaborating, mostly via Skype.

The pair have held media interviews much as Carrey would for an upcoming film, but there's little in the way of offering a review.

Toyne offers her take on the novel.

Carrey and Vachon were guests on CBC Radio's q on July 7. (CBC Radio/q)

Synopsis of Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel

Well, it's a novel about a man named Jim Carrey, who's a Hollywood movie star, much like the Jim Carrey who wrote the novel.

It's also fiction. It's a book about the real Jim Carrey, but it is fiction. 

And it's a book about fame. It's about Hollywood. It's about celebrity. It's about addiction to fame, fear of relevance, fear of becoming irrelevant. And these things are funny, as you might expect, in a novel from Jim Carrey.

It is a book about an apocalypse. There is sort of a real apocalypse that takes place in the novel, which is linked to the choice of the cover, which is Jim Carrey's face when he actually believed that he had eight minutes to live.

It's also about the possibility of a personal apocalypse, like the end of fame, the end of relevance.

And another big preoccupation is … the idea of what movie do I have to take next to keep my star high and to keep myself relevant?

He takes a job working on a movie based on the board game Hungry, Hungry Hippos. And in the movie what they're essentially doing is they're just kind of licensing his digital essence.

Are we at the point now where we can just continue to make Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt blockbusters for the rest of time using their digital essence? I think these are actually quite interesting, current and relevant preoccupations.

Toyne's review

I liked some of the things that it explored in terms of the fear of someone who is so famous being forgotten.

And little moments, like the idea that you become so famous that you start to worry that you have to look nice when you go to bed at night, because what if you die in the middle of the night and cameras are there when you're taken out of the house and you want to look kind of presentable, and things like this — which are also, you know, funny if you think that they're never going to apply to you. 

And very touching scenes, like references to Carrey's memories of his father and how supportive he was early in his career. And to Rodney Dangerfield [and] other people who've been supportive in his career.

I think things like that, the more it sat with me, the more I could see what the book was trying to do. But there were also a number of issues that I have with it.

Carrey upon the release his first book, How Roland Rolls, an award-winning children's book released in 2013. (Dan Steinberg/The Associated Press)

It was frustrating that I felt that I had to go and read a Wikipedia page bio of the author to be able to understand the novel. 

If I were to read a celebrity memoir, one of the reasons I would go to it would be to find out more about the author's life. But also you want to hear all of those gossipy stories about famous people. And in this book, the names of Hollywood A-list as a kind of scattered almost hither-and-yon through the book, but without any background or without any substance. 

As a memoir, it doesn't work because you're not learning anything about them. And as a novel, it doesn't work because there's no effort put into the drawing of the characters.

If you have a scene where there are a bunch of Hollywood A-listers sitting around meditating together and wearing their $3,000 shoes, and suddenly you're told like, 'Oh, Gwyneth Paltrow said this and John Travolta was talking about his new wig,' it's funny, right? But it's too-easy funny. It's very low hanging fruit.

Should you read it?

I'm going to say no, even though I found that there are a lot of things that I can see that Carrey and Vachon are doing with this novel that are interesting and are touching.

And you will notice the spirit of things like Ace Ventura and The Mask and Dumb and Dumber and The Truman Show in this book.

But as a novel, it didn't work for me. Too many easy gags, too much name-dropping, too many things that didn't quite hang together and not fully drawn characters.

So I'm saying no, but fully knowing that this is going to be a bestseller and a huge publishing event.

Produced and written by Laurie Allan. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.  

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