I Wanna Be Literated #235

I Wanna Be Literated #235

Saturday, 13 March 2021

We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe
by Merrill Markoe

About two thirds of the way in, I thought I might be the wrong person to review this book, because I wasn’t aware that I knew who Merrill Markoe was. But then it turns out I did, and it made me want to start over with that information in mind. Markoe was the head writer and creator of the Late Show with David Letterman and I read many of her insights in the Letterman biography that came out years ago. Then I thought, “Well, I formed an opinion about this book mostly as an objective reader, and maybe that’s a good thing.”

The Best Show giveth and we taketh. The “popular” podcast and its crabappley-yet-charming host Tom Scharpling is both a source for some of the best comedy you can get out of two dudes talking to each other on the phone, and a haven for outrage against the relatively insignificant. Occasionally, they have a guest on, and when this guest was Merrill Markoe, it turned into quite an interesting segment that motivated me to get this book she was plugging “We Saw Scenery.” And here we are.

We Saw Scenery is a chronicle of early childhood/teen diary entries from the young Merrill Markoe, all illustrated by the author. In it, she doesn’t just highlight entries that played a major role in her development as an adult, but she also offers retrospective analysis, trying to reach out to her younger self to either console her or give advice. This book is highly entertaining, full of sharp wit and humor, and told from the perspective of someone who welcomes us into the less-than-flattering parts of their life. It’s funny to see that some of our childhood moments hold true no matter what age, sex, or part of the world we grow up in. We all struggle with our parents, yearn for acceptance from our peers, and get way too carried away in matters of love. Also interesting is how Markoe discovers just what details of her childhood experiences her brain (or hippocampus) chose to remember, painting a whole different picture of the events.

The artwork in We Saw Scenery his hard to describe as it’s not exactly professional, but at the same time highly detailed. It’s got a grade school quality to it, which I’m not sure is intentional. Then again, my review copy is black and white and the beauty of the artwork might be hard to appreciate in that format.

We Saw Scenery is a unique and engaging book that everyone can relate to. It’s also a window into the world that made one of the most unique writers in comedy.

Get it here.

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