Talking as Fast as I Can by Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham is a fresh, fun book chronicling the actress’s journey from the beginning of Gilmore Girls to the recent revival, A Year in the Life. In addition to writing about her acting career to date, she discusses the confusing world of Hollywood fad diets, shares lessons from her romantic frustrations, and reveals the advice that helped her become an author.
As a longtime devotee of Gilmore Girls, I have a hard time seeing Lauren Graham as anyone other than Lorelai Gilmore herself. Graham’s memoir doesn’t make the distinction much easier to make. Her memoir reads quick, sharp, and witty, very like the dynamic character she played for so long.
In the chapter titled “Look Up! A Note from Your Friend Old Lady Jackson,” I could picture Lorelai doling out advice. Whether Rory or Sookie, Lane or Paris, or Michel or Kirk were in trouble, she was compassionate and eager to suggest a solution. She would have been chagrined, though, to find herself in the position of the older, wiser adult dispensing cautionary tales to the young.
The most notable difference between actress and character was in Graham’s greater wisdom. Lorelai made a great number of heart-breaking and foolish mistakes in her life on the show, but Graham’s voice hints at a confidence, maturity, and perspective that Lorelai could have benefited from.
Graham’s life and upbringing were certainly a far cry from anything Lorelai ever knew. For those unfamiliar with Gilmore Girls, Lorelia grew up in a wealthy but repressive family. She became a mother at sixteen, left home with her daughter, and worked her way up from hotel maid to owning her own inn. Graham, in contrast, writes about her absent mother, her close relationship with her father, and their years living on a houseboat. She writes about feeling a constant need to ‘get ahead’ as if her life were on a deadline. She became an actress, through a journey filled with humorous and unfortunate blunders.
Gilmore Girls was her big break as an actress, and the unexpected success of the show brought her continued work, like her role on Parenthood–which she describes as the dream job–and back to Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. In the midst of her Hollywood success, she realized that she was one of the few romantically unattached people her age, at least in her social circles. She describes how difficult that was for her, but also the lessons she realized in hindsight after falling for her now-partner Peter Krause on the set of Parenthood.
My favorite chapters were the ones about her writing career. Her first book was a novel called Someday, Someday, Maybe (which I read and enjoyed!), which comes off as highly autobiographical. She admits that much of it was inspired by her own experience as a struggling actress in NYC, but points out the many differences between herself and the main character to assure readers that she is not actually Franny Banks.
The chapter Kitchen Timer contains some incredible writing advice she received from a friend–advice which helped her complete her own books. Though a number of these ‘kitchen timer’ rules are largely familiar and widely preached by other writers, a couple of the rules were new to me. She suggests creating the habit of daily writing time, and keeping two documents open on the screen during the sacred writing hour. One document is for the project you intend to work on. If you get blocked or bored, you can’t leave your chair or check social media, but you can switch to the other document and write whatever you want… even sentences about how badly you don’t want to write. The point is to keep writing. Her advice is simple but inspiring.
Confession: I wasn’t a big fan of the Gilmore Girls sequel. I found it greatly lacking in the signature wit and fast-paced humor of the original series. Rory (played by Alexis Bledel) was a serious disappointment, and I felt as ashamed of her choices as if she’d been a personal friend. Graham apparently felt very different about making A Year in the Life. Her deep enjoyment and nostalgia in recreating the Stars Hollow community warmed me slightly towards the production. And she planted a seed of hope that the show won’t be left on the disappointing (if poetic) note on which it ended.
Because of my insatiable hunger for fiction, memoirs don’t usually compose a great part of my literary diet. I enjoyed Graham’s book quite a bit though. I loved seeing the ways she shaped Lorelai and was shaped by that role. Her advice as ‘Old Lady Jackson’ was witty and sound. Her writing advice was especially valuable. As a stay-at-home-mom of two very small children, I have a hard time fitting in time for writing, but Graham was able to make writing work for her in the middle of her career. She now has three published books to show for it.
Talking as Fast as I Can didn’t grip me like many of the novels that I read, but I could hardly expect it to. Fictional worlds are generally more exciting than the real life of an ordinary, down-to-earth person (which, despite being an actress, Graham definitely seems to be). Neither is Graham’s story a dramatic or heroic one, like Brain on Fire or I Am Malala. Regardless, I found it fresh, fun, and familiar, like I was reading the story of a good friend.