The new Chelsea Handler book, Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me, has skyrocketed to the top of bestseller charts, and it’s not hard to understand why. Handler is hilarious. She’s currently one of comedy’s hottest figures, and all of her previous books (Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang; Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea; and My Horizontal Life) have also been instant chart-toppers.
At the age of 19, Chelsea Handler visited a family member in Los Angeles and didn’t take the plane back home to New Jersey. Instead, she began auditioning for gigs and landed a role on the TV show Girls Behaving Badly. She is the star of her own late-night talk show on E!, Chelsea Lately, and E!’s comedy series, After Lately. Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me demonstrates that Chelsea Handler’s still behaving badly—but mostly in good fun.
This book differs from Handler’s previous bestsellers in its variety of voices. Chelsea Handler is more the subject of this book than its author, though her voice is threaded throughout in comments and photograph captions. Handler enlists the help of twelve “victims,” including her family members, business colleagues, friends, and her dog Chunk to tell these tales, which are all about the things she’s done to deceive her loved ones.
In her introduction, Handler says that her purpose in compiling these stories is to “give back to a handful of the people [she harasses] on a regular basis.” By allowing them to expose her wrongdoing, Handler’s serving her time and giving others the opportunity to live by her mantra: “Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important, laugh at yourself.”
Handler’s antics include the oft-repeated e-mail sabotage, false pregnancy announcements, a smuggling scheme, and fake sports bets, among others. These lies result in responses ranging from shock and surprise to sadness and anger, but all of the victims seem to be incredibly forgiving people who continue to view Handler as a thoughtful and generous friend. If one theme emerges in the book, it’s that the victims all count themselves lucky to have been duped by Chelsea Handler, knowing that her lies are little more than a sign of affection for them.
Lovers of literature won’t find much here to satisfy. The book is full of expletives, and it doesn’t contain much in-depth character analysis. But Handler foreshadows in the book’s introduction what its substance will be, saying: "I have to come to terms with what it is I have to offer the world, and obviously what it is isn’t mind-blowing."