Upon entering the bookstore you could hear the horde of women upstairs on the second floor chatting away like excited schoolgirls. With fresh new books in hand, they waited anxiously for the woman of their nonfiction dreams to greet them with the latest and greatest details about last week's night out with her husband Fletch. (We're talking nothing short of the "I've had one too many white Russians and now I'm slurring my words, but wait, I'm eating jelly beans for dinner" kind of story. No joke.)
The crowd erupted into tumultuous cheers and clapping as the realistic version of Carrie Bradshaw arrived (and it should be noted she arrived right on time).
Wearing a bright yellow peasant top, a few stacks of silver bangles and a perfectly petite set of pearls, New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster stopped by Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park last Friday to promote her first piece of fiction, If You Were Here -- the story of a married couple who move to the suburbs amid unfriendly neighbors, tacky pieces of furniture and unpredictable home improvement problems. (Sounds a little familiar ... though, you'll have to read the book and see if Mac likes to grunt like Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor.)
Best known for her outrageous and painstakingly funny memoirs about her life as a former associate vice president turned writer, Lancaster is nothing short of what we like to call a good time. With her mortal fear of her gynecologist, her random urges to check her local sex offender listings while keeping a machete underneath her pillow and her random run-ins with sex-loving hippie neighbors, it's difficult to not laugh really, really hard -- to the point where you can't breathe -- at her books. (The part in Bright Lights, Big Ass where her gown rips open on each side while she's fighting her issues with being naked at the gynecologist's office? Priceless.)
Lancaster has so much life and honesty in her books, it's hard to think she might just actually be a real person because ... well, no one is really that entertaining, right? Wrong. Friday's signing proved she's real. And that her fans love her.
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After taking time out during the signing to read an excerpt from her new book, Lancaster proceeded to spend a good 45 to 60 minutes answering questions from her audience. But it was as if the people there felt more like her best friend than just fans of her work, asking questions about whether or not she had fixed her dresser or if she had seen the latest Desperate Housewives episode (sort of like a Sex and the City luncheon for 100-plus people).
Although a bit more reserved and less of a potty mouth in person than in her memoirs, Lancaster was pleasant the entire time and kept everyone giggling: She said she likes the fact that Texans understand her jokes about beating up anyone who breaks into her home. She also offered that she just recently finished reading Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed for the second time, tries to check and respond to her Twitter account daily and likes to lick the tops of her pudding cups so Fletch won't go near them.
She wasn't vain. She wasn't rude. She was just Jen. And, honestly, she was so fun and fabulous we'd meet Jen Lancaster for drinks and laughs any day. White Russians our treat.
For more information on Jen, visit her blog at jennsylvania.com.