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Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation

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Multi-award-winning Hannah Gadsby broke comedy with her show Nanette when she declared that she was quitting stand-up. Now, she takes us through the defining moments in her life that led to the creation of Nanette and her powerful decision to tell the truth--no matter the cost. There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself. --Hannah Gadsby, Nanette H Multi-award-winning Hannah Gadsby broke comedy with her show Nanette when she declared that she was quitting stand-up. Now, she takes us through the defining moments in her life that led to the creation of Nanette and her powerful decision to tell the truth--no matter the cost. There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself. --Hannah Gadsby, Nanette Hannah Gadsby's unique standup special Nanette was a viral success that left audiences captivated by her blistering honesty and her ability to create both tension and laughter in a single moment. Gadsby's worldwide fame might have led some to believe she was an overnight sensation, but like everything else about her, the path from open mic to the global stage was hard fought and anything but linear. Ten Steps to Nanette traces her growth as a queer person from Tasmania—where homosexuality was illegal until 1997—to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, to her struggle with late-in-life diagnoses of autism and ADHD, and finally to the backbone of Nanette—the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral significance of truth-telling. Harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby's tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.


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Multi-award-winning Hannah Gadsby broke comedy with her show Nanette when she declared that she was quitting stand-up. Now, she takes us through the defining moments in her life that led to the creation of Nanette and her powerful decision to tell the truth--no matter the cost. There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself. --Hannah Gadsby, Nanette H Multi-award-winning Hannah Gadsby broke comedy with her show Nanette when she declared that she was quitting stand-up. Now, she takes us through the defining moments in her life that led to the creation of Nanette and her powerful decision to tell the truth--no matter the cost. There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself. --Hannah Gadsby, Nanette Hannah Gadsby's unique standup special Nanette was a viral success that left audiences captivated by her blistering honesty and her ability to create both tension and laughter in a single moment. Gadsby's worldwide fame might have led some to believe she was an overnight sensation, but like everything else about her, the path from open mic to the global stage was hard fought and anything but linear. Ten Steps to Nanette traces her growth as a queer person from Tasmania—where homosexuality was illegal until 1997—to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, to her struggle with late-in-life diagnoses of autism and ADHD, and finally to the backbone of Nanette—the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral significance of truth-telling. Harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby's tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.

30 review for Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    Wow, there are a lot of trolls in the ratings already, aren't there? This is a difficult read the way Nanette was difficult: it's extremely raw, the subject matter is at times brutal, parts are a bit too long and rambly, and Hannah Gadsby doesn't care what you think of her and that comes across. (Plus the book comes with the added bonus of discovering that, as bad as one might have thought rural America was in the '90s if you were weird or different or god forbid queer, Tasmania was even worse!) Wow, there are a lot of trolls in the ratings already, aren't there? This is a difficult read the way Nanette was difficult: it's extremely raw, the subject matter is at times brutal, parts are a bit too long and rambly, and Hannah Gadsby doesn't care what you think of her and that comes across. (Plus the book comes with the added bonus of discovering that, as bad as one might have thought rural America was in the '90s if you were weird or different or god forbid queer, Tasmania was even worse!) But it's also good and important in the same way: funny and insightful, voicelessness given voice. If you like Hannah Gadsby's work, you will like this. If you don't: well, in some cases it appears to mean that you have a compulsion that causes you to rate books you haven't read one star before they've even come out. Are you okay? You should really talk to someone. Hannah has some good stories about how therapy helps.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    When I think about watching Hannah Gadsby’s NetFlix special a few years ago, I remembered it as being funny and original. I didn’t remember the heartbreaking aspects she included. Her memoir, Ten Steps to Nanette, has laugh-out-loud funny bits, but it describes many painful memories she survived as well in greater detail than her special. (I caught them the second time I watched after reading this book.) Hanna is a lesbian from the small, very isolated state of Tasmania (part of Australia) where When I think about watching Hannah Gadsby’s NetFlix special a few years ago, I remembered it as being funny and original. I didn’t remember the heartbreaking aspects she included. Her memoir, Ten Steps to Nanette, has laugh-out-loud funny bits, but it describes many painful memories she survived as well in greater detail than her special. (I caught them the second time I watched after reading this book.) Hanna is a lesbian from the small, very isolated state of Tasmania (part of Australia) where it was illegal to be gay until 1997. (!) She also wasn’t diagnosed with autism or ADHD until late in life, and then social media let her know she couldn’t possibly be autistic or have ADHD because she’s female. (?) “It’s rare for girls and other not-boys to receive a timely diagnosis. Probably because we were overlooked in the stereotyping process and because girls with ADHD often present as inattentive as opposed to hyperactive. We are the daydreamers. Not the distractors.” Because of the anti-gay rhetoric (similar stuff I remember living through in this country, things like the sentiment that “gay” is a synonym of “pedophile” and HIV “only” impacts gays and IV drug users, i.e., people who don’t matter,) she was homophobic herself even as she was beginning to recognize her attraction to women. She repressed her sexuality “without too much effort.” This is definitely worth a read of what it took for her to become “an overnight success” that was many years in the making. Even if you never watched the special, this is a memoir that's worth the read for how many important topics it touches upon. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this memoir.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emmalita

    Nothing I say in this review is going to adequately express how generally good this book is because I keep wallowing in the ways it is impacting me personally. It is very good and I think a lot of people should read it. Especially now when there is a rising focus on driving LGBTQ+ folks further into the margins and erasing them from the present. Hannah Gadsby’s Ten Steps to Nanette has laid me out flat. Before flattening me, it knocked me for a loop, took me on a rollercoaster ride and has genera Nothing I say in this review is going to adequately express how generally good this book is because I keep wallowing in the ways it is impacting me personally. It is very good and I think a lot of people should read it. Especially now when there is a rising focus on driving LGBTQ+ folks further into the margins and erasing them from the present. Hannah Gadsby’s Ten Steps to Nanette has laid me out flat. Before flattening me, it knocked me for a loop, took me on a rollercoaster ride and has generally discombobulated me. I’ve known for a while that I have executive function issues and probably attention deficit disorder. Reading Hannah Gadsby’s writings about the way she perceives and interacts with the world felt so familiar. I don’t think I’ve spent so much of a book seeing myself since reading the first Murderbot Diaries instalment, All Systems Red. There are similarly a lot of differences too. I lack the physical and mental capabilities of Martha Wells’ fictional agender SecUnit. I had an easier childhood and young adulthood than the very real Hannah Gadsby and a much less successful adulthood. I think that she would understand the relationship between why my earlier successes happened (external structures) and my later in life fall off the cliff (no guard rails). Ten Steps to Nanette is a fantastic memoir. She has a specific agenda beyond telling her life story. Gadsby never dives into trauma porn, but she breaks my heart every few pages. As she walks us through her life, she provides larger context in some places. Even before she knew she was a lesbian, she was internalizing the hateful and violent messages about homosexuality. Even if she had not been gay, she was still marinated in misogyny, fatphobia, and told a hundred ways that she wasn’t good enough. Kindness and compassion are a balm for the shame. She is walking us towards the pieces of self knowledge that allow her to be more compassionate towards herself and others. If you watched Nanette or Douglas, or her other standup shows from earlier in her career, some of the content of this book will be familiar. It is funny, and informative. There is tension. At the beginning of the book, when talking about whether Nanette was a comedy or not, she says she took what she knew about comedy and “pulled it all apart and built a monster out of its corpse.” The source of Hannah Gadsby’s comedy is her own life. Ten Steps to Nanette is partly her pulling apart the bones of her own life, but she is not building a monster from it’s corpse. She is identifying the bones that were turned into monsters as a matter of survival. Several years ago I was working with a high school senior who was struggling to get through school. She was attending a small, private school for kids with learning disabilities. She struggled to explain herself, would become overwhelmed, and shut down. One day we were meeting with a teacher to discuss how she could fix a project that she needed a passing grade on in order to graduate. During the meeting when she was trying to explain why she was having a hard time, she put her head down on the table clearly at the end of her words. The teacher spent a long moment looking at his student with her head on the table, clearly ready to be failed. He apologized to her for not recognizing how hard she had worked on the project and for not seeing the effort she was making. He asked her if she could make a couple of format changes and agreed to give her an extension without penalty. It was a moment of kindness that should not be as extraordinary as it was. I thought of that choice that the teacher made to see that his student was engaged, was making an effort even if she wasn’t fulfilling all of the technical requirements several times while I was reading. CWs for everyday cruelty, CSA, physical assault, rape, abortion, physical injuries, surgery, suicidal ideation, self-loathing, homophobia, misogyny, homelessness, fatphobia, drinking, drug use, and shame. I received this as an advance reader copy from Random House – Ballantine and NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Truly amazing, Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation is well crafted and riveting. This is a book everyone should read. I really want to emphasize that. You do not have to be a part of one of the marginalized communities that Hannah is to benefit from this book. Having just finished this book, I'm still organizing my thoughts but a few things stuck out to me: - I don't know nearly enough about the history of LGBTQ+ rights in other countries. - The way Hannah can acknowledge the ways in which s Truly amazing, Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation is well crafted and riveting. This is a book everyone should read. I really want to emphasize that. You do not have to be a part of one of the marginalized communities that Hannah is to benefit from this book. Having just finished this book, I'm still organizing my thoughts but a few things stuck out to me: - I don't know nearly enough about the history of LGBTQ+ rights in other countries. - The way Hannah can acknowledge the ways in which she is privileged while concurrently being oppressed by others' privileges is inspiring. - There is such value in re-analyzing pivotal moments in our lives even years after. - It is never too late to express your appreciation to others and to note how they impacted your life. - We should all do more to keep each other safe. Prior to reading/listening to this book, I strongly recommend watching Nanette if you haven't already. Her comedic style, while genius, is very different from American mainstream comedians if that's what you're used to. Don't read a synopsis of it or watch clips on YouTube. Watch the whole Netflix special. This is important not just for back story, but also so the sections of the book where Hannah discusses her reasons for why she constructed the show the way she did, make sense. I also strongly recommend listening to the audiobook which is read by Hannah herself, over reading a physical copy. There is no better way to understand her words than to hear her speak them. The audiobook also also includes powerful clips from the Netflix special, that wouldn't be as stirring in just print.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    As an autistic lesbian, I feel that I am obligated to love Hannah Gadsby. And I do.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    It's always fun to listen to Australian stand-up comedian Hannah Gadsby, and this memoir is no exception - although surprisingly, I thought the pacing in the overall composition was slightly off, and I found many aspects a little repetitive. Still, it's a worthwhile read (or better: listen, the audiobook is of course read by the author) about growing up as a queer neurodiverse person in a remote region. People who are new to Gadsby still need to start with "Nanette", of course, which is lauded f It's always fun to listen to Australian stand-up comedian Hannah Gadsby, and this memoir is no exception - although surprisingly, I thought the pacing in the overall composition was slightly off, and I found many aspects a little repetitive. Still, it's a worthwhile read (or better: listen, the audiobook is of course read by the author) about growing up as a queer neurodiverse person in a remote region. People who are new to Gadsby still need to start with "Nanette", of course, which is lauded for good reason. As the title suggests, this memoir gives a wider context regarding how Gadsby found the courage to write a comedy program about how self-deprecating comedy hurts marginalized people and their communities, and how turning trauma into entertainment can be re-traumatizing if the jokes aim to spare the audience from the emotional burden that comes with psychological (and physical) violence. And about how Picasso is overrated and a prime example for toxic masculinity. Great, intelligent stuff.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bizzy

    I don’t know if I’m doing things in the right order – I read the book before watching Nanette and without knowing much about it aside from the most basic details. But at least I can use this review to assure people that you can enjoy the book all on its own. I heard about Hannah Gadsby because she, like me, is an autistic person who didn’t know she was autistic until well into adulthood. I heard about her from others in that group, because many of us like to collect each other’s stories. Adult di I don’t know if I’m doing things in the right order – I read the book before watching Nanette and without knowing much about it aside from the most basic details. But at least I can use this review to assure people that you can enjoy the book all on its own. I heard about Hannah Gadsby because she, like me, is an autistic person who didn’t know she was autistic until well into adulthood. I heard about her from others in that group, because many of us like to collect each other’s stories. Adult discovery of our autistic identity gives us a new language and framework through which to view ourselves, our pasts, and our relationships, and consequently we spend a great deal of time sorting and recontextualizing our memories away from the previous guiding truth of “there is something wrong with me” and towards “I am different and worthy of acceptance.” This book is about Gadsby’s own recontextualization – not only of autism but also her queer identity and past trauma – and I appreciated being able to go on that journey with her. Despite many differences between our life experiences, there were so many observations in the book that we shared, and it means a great deal to finally have that sense of underlying similarity with other people. It’s impossible to fully impart on others the meaning that individual memories have in this experience, and I think some readers might be unsure why certain stories are shared or what message they’re supposed to provide. But I don’t think that’s the point; this isn’t a Hollywood biopic where each event is chosen for its place in a larger narrative about how the end result was the inevitable result of what came before. Instead, this is a recounting of what seemed relevant to Gadsby at this particular point in time, as she wrote Nanette and dealt with the aftermath. Gadsby repeatedly reminds the reader that her success was anything but inevitable and depended on a great deal of luck and coincidence, in addition to her talent. The meaning of any particular event depends heavily on how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you, and this book is about exploring how changes in perception change the impact of the past. The events it describes aren’t meant to fit together in one neat narrative for the reader. I recommend this book to anyone who has gone through this process of reframing their past through a new lens gained as an adult, whether that lens is the result of overcoming internalized homophobia, confronting past trauma, receiving an autism diagnosis, or something else. Even if your experiences don’t look like Gadsby’s, simply going on that journey with her might help you on your own. I reviewed the ARC version of this book. CW: Assault, molestation, rape, injury, isolation, suicidal ideation, body image, mental health difficulties.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Hannah Gadsby appeared from seemingly out of nowhere—to those of us in the States—with a searing personal story about her own trauma that was built into her standup comedy routine. Nanette singed our eyebrows and made a great many of us absolutely love her. When I saw this memoir, I knew I had to read it. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine for the review copy; that said, I would have paid an exorbitant price for a personal copy had it been necessary, and I would not have been Hannah Gadsby appeared from seemingly out of nowhere—to those of us in the States—with a searing personal story about her own trauma that was built into her standup comedy routine. Nanette singed our eyebrows and made a great many of us absolutely love her. When I saw this memoir, I knew I had to read it. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine for the review copy; that said, I would have paid an exorbitant price for a personal copy had it been necessary, and I would not have been disappointed in what I bought. This book is for sale now. In some ways it seems useless to review this memoir, because those that are interested in reading it are already fans; those that recoiled in horror from her blunt revelations and assessments of the world around us won’t read it, no matter what I say. But for the few that haven’t seen her standup routine, I counsel you first to watch Nanette on Netflix, and then watch Douglas, too. Of course, you can go into this memoir green, but you’ll appreciate it more if you understand her references to the show. For those that are fans but are wondering whether the memoir is going to be her standup material, recycled—and surely, plenty of other people have done that sort of thing—I can reassure you that it is not. There are references to Nanette, and there are also references to her newer release, Douglas, the show she named after her dog. But there’s a good deal of information here that you won’t get anywhere else, and that’s what makes it worth it. After discovering that Gadsby made it in the entertainment business despite coming from no money whatsoever, with no connections to anyone in show business in her native Australia or elsewhere, and having a host of disabilities, foremost among them autism, I wondered whether her success was a piece of rare good luck, or the result of hard work and perseverance unseen by most of her viewers. It’s the latter. And not only has she worked long and hard to make it as a comic, she is also one hell of a fine writer. The depth of analysis and critical thinking in this memoir took my breath away. Since I’ve been reviewing, I have built myself a bit of a reading routine. There are particular times of day when I read, and also times when I put my books down to get other things done. Gadsby destroyed my orderly timetable. It’s been a long time since any book, however enjoyable to read, has caused me to say, Nope. Not stopping. This one did. I highlighted a lot of passages, but I’ve decided not to use any direct quotes here, because all of them are so much better in context. But I will say that I am truly ashamed at the way that teachers let her down. As a child she was disciplined, bullied, and received everything at school except the help she desperately needed. I am devastated that my profession failed this brilliant woman. I’d love to believe that things have improved significantly since she was a child, but in my heart, I know there are still little Hannahs out there. Some are falling through the cracks, whereas others are pushed. The horror! Most of her story is not horrifying, however; it is immensely entertaining. Nobody could safely walk through the room while I was reading without having to listen to a passage or two. On the other hand, nobody minded much, either, because Gatsby. The most engaging aspect of this memoir—and its author—is authenticity. She never pulls punches, whether describing her own poor choices, or those made by others. One or two very popular American performers have taken passive aggressive swipes at her, and she uses this opportunity to swipe back, right at the start of the book, no less! I wanted to stand up and cheer, but instead, I did it sitting down so as not to lose my place. The only question remaining is whether you should read this brilliant, darkly funny and disarmingly frank memoir in print or audio. I haven’t heard the audio, but since she reads it herself, you know it’s good. On the other hand, there are several passages that are so well written that I went back over them before moving on; you might miss those with an audio book. True fans that can do so should get both versions. Highly, hugely recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Technically, this is my second book.’ No, I have not seen ‘Nanette’. Yes, I do know who Hannah Gadsby is. I have seen some of her work. So why did I read this? I was curious to learn more about Hannah’s journey to stand-up comedy and her life beyond. It is not often that Smithton on the north-west coast of Tasmania is mentioned internationally. Part memoir, part history lesson (yes, homosexuality was not decriminalised in Tasmania until 1997), and part reminder that neurodiversity takes many for ‘Technically, this is my second book.’ No, I have not seen ‘Nanette’. Yes, I do know who Hannah Gadsby is. I have seen some of her work. So why did I read this? I was curious to learn more about Hannah’s journey to stand-up comedy and her life beyond. It is not often that Smithton on the north-west coast of Tasmania is mentioned internationally. Part memoir, part history lesson (yes, homosexuality was not decriminalised in Tasmania until 1997), and part reminder that neurodiversity takes many forms, and so much more. Hannah’s honesty and humour leaven what might otherwise be a traumatic account of her life and experience. ‘For me, stand-up comedy was always an act of self-portraiture.’ Recommended reading. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  10. 5 out of 5

    CC

    Wow. Solid 4. Recommended for: - Creative Writers - People from complicated families - When you want to laugh AND cry. This book made me feel all the things. It’s dark. It’s all shades of blue. It’s comedy gold. It’s thoughtful but also it stomped on my heart. I haven’t seen her standup yet (will remedy soon), I just saw her interview with Colbert, and was giggling through her mom stories.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    I'm not even sure where to start. I should probably mention first up that I am a big fan of Hannah. Big fan. Been to the shows, watched the shows, watched the shows again, got tickets for the next show. Yup. Big fan. So, when you are a big fan of someone like this, and they write a book, you want it really badly, then you get worried because it might not be amazing. And, whilst I felt like I was in relatively safe hands with Hannah, I was still a little bit scared it might suck a little bit. But I'm not even sure where to start. I should probably mention first up that I am a big fan of Hannah. Big fan. Been to the shows, watched the shows, watched the shows again, got tickets for the next show. Yup. Big fan. So, when you are a big fan of someone like this, and they write a book, you want it really badly, then you get worried because it might not be amazing. And, whilst I felt like I was in relatively safe hands with Hannah, I was still a little bit scared it might suck a little bit. But it didn't. It was great. Hard. Gutwrenching. Moving. Scary. Funny. Great. This is what it is like to be Hannah Gadsby. To grow up in small-town Tasmania, undiagnosed with autism, later unmedicated for ADHD. It was a tough life. The struggles were harrowing to read about, but these struggles inform the humour and reading about them makes me feel like I understand so much more about not just Nanette, but the other work as well, particularly her comments about her mum. Loved this, must not go and watch Nanette again. And again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    First, watch Gadsby’s Netflix special “Nanette,” then read this “memoir situation” on growing up in Tasmania where it was illegal to be gay until somewhat recently; on being diagnosed with ASD as an adult; on being an art history major and comedian. Her disdain for Picasso is truly refreshing. Gadsby unpacks significant trauma here and I think many folks will identify. A tough, but absolutely fantastic read! Watch “Douglas” after.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I could listen to Hannah Gadsby forever. I can't even remember if I laugh or not. Listening to her break down all the subtext and hidden meaning behind Nanette was amazing. Why anyone would feel an urge to bring her down is beyond me, I hope she does what she does forever. I could listen to Hannah Gadsby forever. I can't even remember if I laugh or not. Listening to her break down all the subtext and hidden meaning behind Nanette was amazing. Why anyone would feel an urge to bring her down is beyond me, I hope she does what she does forever.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I have been rabid for this book since I discovered it existed. Or would exist. I haunted NetGalley looking for it, put in my request as soon as it was listed, and waited impatiently for the denial I was sure was coming as I heard nothing for nearly three months. And then I got the email. And I did a weird happy dance at work because my brain works differently. I'm going to come back and give this a more proper, in depth review but I need to sit with it a bit longer, give it a good think. Somethi I have been rabid for this book since I discovered it existed. Or would exist. I haunted NetGalley looking for it, put in my request as soon as it was listed, and waited impatiently for the denial I was sure was coming as I heard nothing for nearly three months. And then I got the email. And I did a weird happy dance at work because my brain works differently. I'm going to come back and give this a more proper, in depth review but I need to sit with it a bit longer, give it a good think. Something I think Gadsby would entirely understand as I wait for the words to form, and then come out of my head and into the world. There is so much here, so much truth, so much reflection, so much care spent weaving in actual history with personal history, all leading to something that aims to deliver great meaning (and succeeds). And with legitimately funny footnotes tucked in, a personal favorite (not to diminish the intentionally not funny ones). There are portions of this book that made me cry, not because of what Gadsby has gone through and survived, but because of the eloquent way she has in describing what can sometimes feel so isolating, and the language she puts to not trusting a diagnosis that feels right because it doesn’t look or feel like you were told it would. Of not feeling at home in your own skin when out in the world, but when you are in your own quiet home feeling deeply yourself. Of all the times that the world insists on being more than you can process in any given moment, how if you have just the right sorts of presentations or coping mechanisms you will have to fight to be taken seriously that you are not – in fact – doing all that well. That you will have to fight to believe yourself, to not let anyone diminish your own lived experience. As much as Ten Steps to Nanette is set up in a typical memoir format, it also works differently. Some of it is a bit cheeky, starting with an epilogue and ending with a prologue, but they are also used exactly as they are titled. It isn’t a play on words, Gadsby is intentionally taking the pieces and putting them in the order that best serves her needs. Some chapters (or steps) are very short while others are much longer. Some bounce back and forth from the personal to the national, some are more biographical, others still are written in a more active voice much more like her stage work. But because Gadsby is very good at what she does the tone of this book stays the same: these are the facts, and this is how I felt, but the how of the tone is what changes because each step (and the wilderness years she generally leaves unexplored, this is not tragedy porn) need to be handled in their own way. By allowing her story the space it needs to be told in the manner it needs to be told in she is doing an incredibly important bit of writing as people all over who fall into many of her intersectionalities are struggling to remain safe and seen. She takes her rare bit of luck and her privileges and shines the light where it needs to be shined, without making herself or anyone else the victim of the story. Bad things happen, people are victimized, but that is not where the story ends or lingers. 5 unabashed neurodivergent stars. full review: https://faintingviolet.wordpress.com/...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    There was a brief moment when I first started reading Hannah Gadsby’s “Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation” that I regretted not getting the audiobook. After all, Gadsby is a performer, wouldn’t it be better to listen to her perform her work? But very quickly, I put that thought to rest because soon enough — likely because I’ve watched her stand-up specials on Netflix a few times apiece — I could hear her voice in my head as I read. Her words on the page as in those specials are witty and s There was a brief moment when I first started reading Hannah Gadsby’s “Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation” that I regretted not getting the audiobook. After all, Gadsby is a performer, wouldn’t it be better to listen to her perform her work? But very quickly, I put that thought to rest because soon enough — likely because I’ve watched her stand-up specials on Netflix a few times apiece — I could hear her voice in my head as I read. Her words on the page as in those specials are witty and sharp, with several amusing asides that operate in this format as footnotes. The memoir is made up of ten sections, or “steps.” The first step, interestingly enough, is called Epilogue and covers the aftermath of Gadsby’s most well known stand-up piece “Nanette.” Though of course it makes more sense to put an epilogue at the end of a book, I suspect it’s structured this way because Gadsby knows you’re likely here because you already saw or at least heard about “Nanette,” so she’s going to get that out of the way first before recounting in mostly chronological order the experiences that informed the writing and performing of the landmark special. Gadsby starts off “Ten Steps to Nanette” with hilarious anecdotes of celebrity encounters and charming stories about her family, moves on to poignant tales of adolescent awkwardness and loneliness, and then slowly yet steadily turns to other, heavier topics. She discusses her realization and then repression of her sexuality against the homophobic climate of Tasmania in the 1990s. She touches on physical and sexual assaults. She talks at length about injuries and her experiences with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. She reflects on struggling through life with undiagnosed ASD and ADHD. And while discussing all of these difficult events and circumstances, she interjects clever observations and quips. The switch between serious reflection and funny observation can at times be jarring. But, as Gadsby mentions in this book and in her stand-up, there is no straight line through trauma. This is not simply a comedian’s personal history from youth to her seminal work. She states more than once this is not meant to be an inspirational success story. “Ten Steps to Nanette” seeks to process how societal homophobia and toxic masculinity affected and thereby helped shape an individual’s life, attempts to shine another light on the importance of mental health, and tries to deconstruct myths about neurodivergence. It moves between being funny and melancholy, pedantic and amusing, frank and rambling, rageful and wistful. This memoir is a multifaceted, complicated piece because she, like any other human, is a multifaceted, complicated person. “Ten Steps to Nanette” is not an easy read, but it is an important and enlightening one because of the topics covered and the amount of introspection Gadsby dedicates to them. If you enjoyed the stand-up special “Nanette” or at least appreciated what she was trying to do with it, you will like this book. If you didn’t… well, you probably haven’t made it this far in my review anyway. Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Agla

    I won't rate this memoire because I find it difficult to grade someone's life. I have seen and loved both her Netflix specials so I knew a few of the stories in this book but I still discovered things. I did not find this book funny but I think it's by design. It is advertised as funny but the author says repeatedly that trauma is not meant to entertain and this book deals with trauma. That should not deter you from reading it but just be aware. The book is divided into 10 steps and starts with I won't rate this memoire because I find it difficult to grade someone's life. I have seen and loved both her Netflix specials so I knew a few of the stories in this book but I still discovered things. I did not find this book funny but I think it's by design. It is advertised as funny but the author says repeatedly that trauma is not meant to entertain and this book deals with trauma. That should not deter you from reading it but just be aware. The book is divided into 10 steps and starts with the epilogue (because why not). The steps are uneven, 2 of them did not really keep me engaged but others were very interesting. The narrative felt at times meandering and jumping from one story to the next but I think that's also by design. The author wants to show us something before it is revealed. If you are familiar with her work the "reveal" won't come as a shock at all. I learned a lot about Tasmanian history and it's homophobic past. This book also shows the effect/consequences of US cultural imperialism. All in all a good book even if it took me a while to read it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    3.5 stars. This is a few different things put together and I found myself wishing a few times it had picked just one thing. The first half, covering Gadsby's early years, was well told. Sharp, observant, often funny, often terrible. A little meandering but told with heart and charm. As we move into her adult life, it stops being a straightforward memoir and moves into the pieces of her life that fuel her stand up shows and end up leading to her breakout hit, NANETTE. There was a lot of interesti 3.5 stars. This is a few different things put together and I found myself wishing a few times it had picked just one thing. The first half, covering Gadsby's early years, was well told. Sharp, observant, often funny, often terrible. A little meandering but told with heart and charm. As we move into her adult life, it stops being a straightforward memoir and moves into the pieces of her life that fuel her stand up shows and end up leading to her breakout hit, NANETTE. There was a lot of interesting stuff here, too, especially around her autism diagnosis and recognizing how she could navigate her life in new ways. She gives us some of the steps around the writing of the show, how the pieces started to come together, but there isn't much process really, though I found everything she said about performing Nanette fascinating, given how much it required her to relive her own trauma for hundreds of shows. While it's not as cohesive as I would have liked, and was probably rushed out a bit to capitalize on Nanette's success, it's still very worthwhile. I particularly enjoyed Gadsby doing the audio, she can be lively, can be droll, and you can tell how much she thinks about delivery by how she reads it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    darce vader

    I love this book, I love her. What an absolute fucking gift Hannah Gadsby is to this world. I recommend watching Nanette before reading, and again after reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Anyone who admired Hannah Gadsby's Netflix specials, Nanette and Douglas will want to give this book a look. For the first half, Gadsby recounts her 1980s and '90s childhood in conjunction with a history of homophobia in Australia, contrasting, paralleling and overlapping. The second half is her adulthood with all its additional traumas, therapy and diagnoses as she creates and refines her many different stand-up shows. It's heavy stuff, but as in her specials it alternates between keeping it lig Anyone who admired Hannah Gadsby's Netflix specials, Nanette and Douglas will want to give this book a look. For the first half, Gadsby recounts her 1980s and '90s childhood in conjunction with a history of homophobia in Australia, contrasting, paralleling and overlapping. The second half is her adulthood with all its additional traumas, therapy and diagnoses as she creates and refines her many different stand-up shows. It's heavy stuff, but as in her specials it alternates between keeping it light with regularly placed jokes and making it riveting during the dramatic moments. I'm rating this 4 stars, but I'm rounding up from 3.5 stars because sometimes things get vague or brushed over and some subjects come up only to disappear without a full accounting. I read the paper book, but almost wish I did the audiobook thing more often, because being narrated by Gadsby would probably move this into an even higher level.

  20. 5 out of 5

    emily

    Memoirs are hard for me. Unless it is about someone I deeply connect with and whose work I admire, nonfiction isn’t always the easiest for me to get into. This was probably a solid 3.5 for me. I saw Nanette, and, not really enjoying stand up comedy very much, that was my only introduction to her. Though, it was a great one. I adored the show. I sobbed at it, and I laughed at it, and I kept thinking about it long after for a while. This book picked up a lot of threads spoken about in Nanette, but Memoirs are hard for me. Unless it is about someone I deeply connect with and whose work I admire, nonfiction isn’t always the easiest for me to get into. This was probably a solid 3.5 for me. I saw Nanette, and, not really enjoying stand up comedy very much, that was my only introduction to her. Though, it was a great one. I adored the show. I sobbed at it, and I laughed at it, and I kept thinking about it long after for a while. This book picked up a lot of threads spoken about in Nanette, but expanded a lot on her experiences as a queer child with autism in rural Australia in the 90s. It was an insightful and really great (and at points, hard) read and I def rec it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine books for the advance digital copy for review. I came all the way back up here to the top because I felt like, even after my inexcusably long review, I hadn't made myself clear enough: Ten Steps to Nanette will most definitely be in my top books of 2022. I know it's only March, but fortunately, I'm the one in charge and can make these kinds of projections. Nanette, the special, starts off with a story of an encounter at a bus stop, funny, cheekily told, and by Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine books for the advance digital copy for review. I came all the way back up here to the top because I felt like, even after my inexcusably long review, I hadn't made myself clear enough: Ten Steps to Nanette will most definitely be in my top books of 2022. I know it's only March, but fortunately, I'm the one in charge and can make these kinds of projections. Nanette, the special, starts off with a story of an encounter at a bus stop, funny, cheekily told, and by the end, winds up with the real story - what really happened at that bus stop, with all kinds of context and offshoots and layers in between, all pieces dropped here and there that are yanked together tightly in the finish. That is a ham-fisted summation of what the show does brilliantly. The book, Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation, is similar. It starts off with the epilogue, talking about Nanette. The critical reception, who it bothered the most (quelle surprise), a bit about what life has been like for Hannah Gadsby since. From there, it goes back in time to chronicle her life, from her childhood in Tasmania through adulthood, before finally ending up back at Nanette - writing it, early performances, and finally recording it, now with so much more context behind it. Along the way, she covers relationships, abuse, trauma, history, mental illness, and more. I don't know if I need to clarify this for anyone seeking out this book, but I will, just in case: there are plenty of very funny parts. I angry-laughed at a dad joke in a footnote within the first couple of minutes of starting. I'm still mad about it, actually. Humor is appropriately spread throughout. But haven't you heard? Hannah Gadsby ruined comedy. This book is not a laugh riot. Picking out favorite parts is impossible - I've highlighted the eBook to bursting and don't imagine I'll be able to fully sort my thoughts until I have my hands on a physical copy, but two things I keep turning over in my mind in the meantime: - There's a quote in the epilogue at the start of the book, in the discussion of the reactions to Nanette: "I have skills, people, I know what I am doing, even if you don't like it." Later, at the actual end of the book, we get a look at how Nanette was put together - Hannah Gadsby jokingly refers to it as magic at one point, and it almost seems like it must be. All the turning gears, the considerations for the audience and herself, how impossible it seemed to make it work and how impossible it seems that it DOES work. It's not explicitly written on the page, but it's certainly a call back to that first chapter: she has skills, people, and she knows what she's doing. Absolutely one of the most fascinating things I've ever read. - And speaking of magic: the tone of this book stays the same throughout. These are the facts, and this is how I felt. Even if you can't always relate or fully understand (aside from being white, AFAB, and roughly the same age, I don't share much in common with Hannah Gadsby), the picture is so clearly drawn that it's impossible not to empathize. Even the least personally relatable parts of her story feel close. What feels a bit like magic, though, is when the topic shifts into something that is a shared experience - either universally (misogyny, body issues, aimlessness), or by connection to someone, or more personal (different for everyone, I suppose). The tone never changes, but it almost feels like it does. Like for one moment, she turns directly to you to say, "aren't these the facts, and isn't this how it feels?," and then goes right back to telling her own very singular, unique story. I suppose that is because she has skills, and she knows what she's doing. - I said there were two things, that was a lie. This is a third, because I am still thinking about tone. I can imagine a hypothetical person who would take issue with the tone in this book, particularly with regard to the more confronting topics. For people expecting at least a feeble attempt at "there are two sides to every issue," it doesn't exist here. It's all in the same straightforward tone - not "this is what I think," but "this is how it is." These are the facts, and the facts are fucked. There aren't two sides to every issue, and not everything is up for debate, especially not humanity, empathy, and decency. Presented, discussed, and not an air pocket left on the page for a single gasp of "but what about" or "just to play devil's advocate" or "yes, but." You'll notice I said that I could imagine hypothetical people who would take issue with this. I loved it. It feels like something you can lean hard against. I don't imagine those hypothetical people would pick up this book in the first place. Is this too long for a review? Absolutely. But first of all, there's no law, and second of all, it's half the size it originally was. Third of all, I haven't even managed to communicate how much I liked the book yet. Saying I liked it feels inadequate. I think it's special, but I don't know what to point at to demonstrate that to you. I'd encourage all fans of Nanette to pick it up, but that feels too limiting - this isn't a "sudden celebrity success writes a book about that success" story. It's a story from a voice that, under anything but these wildly unique circumstances, we'd never get to hear. Queer, non-standardly female, autistic, from a small town on a small island you likely don't know a thing about. It IS special. Pick it up!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    People like Hannah Gadsby don’t often get to tell their own stories. Marginalized on several fronts, staying alive was never a given, much less reaching an audience to tell her stories. Though there are many funny passages in this book, I hesitate to call it a comedic memoir. The compounding trauma of her life is very much front and center, and readers need to be prepared for that. It’s a worthwhile read about a very interesting person, but it is never easy. NetGalley provided me with an ARC in e People like Hannah Gadsby don’t often get to tell their own stories. Marginalized on several fronts, staying alive was never a given, much less reaching an audience to tell her stories. Though there are many funny passages in this book, I hesitate to call it a comedic memoir. The compounding trauma of her life is very much front and center, and readers need to be prepared for that. It’s a worthwhile read about a very interesting person, but it is never easy. NetGalley provided me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenica

    I'm really not sure how to review this book, if I'm being honest. Ten Steps to Nanette is Hannah Gadsby's story and she talks about a lot of her life and what led to her Netflix special Nanette, which was an absolutely incredible comedy/not comedy special. The memoir situation is really interesting because it's not really written like any other memoir I've ever read. Gadsby does a lot of contextualizing her life with the wider framework of what was going on in the world, and especially Tasmania, I'm really not sure how to review this book, if I'm being honest. Ten Steps to Nanette is Hannah Gadsby's story and she talks about a lot of her life and what led to her Netflix special Nanette, which was an absolutely incredible comedy/not comedy special. The memoir situation is really interesting because it's not really written like any other memoir I've ever read. Gadsby does a lot of contextualizing her life with the wider framework of what was going on in the world, and especially Tasmania, where she grew up. She also sort of skims over things that other people might think she would focus more on. Like, the traumatic events she experienced. But, she mostly doesn't. I really feel like Gadsby was given the freedom to write a book the way her neurodiverse brain wanted to write her story and so there are all of these quirks to her writing that are unexpected and kind of wonderful at the same time. I'm not really sure how to explain it. What I do know is that I kept texting my best friend and telling her about various aspects of Ten Steps to Nanette and encouraging her to pick up her own copy. One of the things though that does make this book difficult, and yet timely, to read is that it covers a lot of the path to legalizing being gay in Tasmania in the 90s and the circles back to how that rhetoric returned in the path to legalize gay marriage in the 2010s. And, for this American, at least, it was disconcerting to realize that America is having the exact same discussions all over again in 2022 for some reason. It's funny because Gadsby talked about how people discussed Nanette as being a "reaction" to the #MeToo movement, but actually Gadsby was just working through her own traumas, the timing was just prescient. Well, it looks like this book may have come at a similarly prescient time. It's a little frustrating in a way. Anyway, I would highly recommend picking up Ten Steps to Nanette if you liked the Netflix special or if you think you might like a memoir that really contextualizes how a person's life was impacted by larger global events, even when a person didn't necessarily know everything that was happening. I really appreciated this book and I think now I need to go rewatch Nanette. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-review copy! I actually read this via audio that I purchased myself because Gadsby narrates it herself and that's always my favorite way to consume a memoir.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kaila

    4/5 stars I always feel weird ‘rating’ memoirs, so I’ll keep this nice and short. As a huge supporter of Hannah Gadsby, this book was extremely interesting and brought a new depth of understanding to Gadsby and her work. While this was obviously a very hard-hitting book with lots of serious themes and discussions, it was also punctuated by Gadsby’s unmistakable charm, quick humour and sharp wit. I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook if you have access, so you can have it read by Gadsb 4/5 stars I always feel weird ‘rating’ memoirs, so I’ll keep this nice and short. As a huge supporter of Hannah Gadsby, this book was extremely interesting and brought a new depth of understanding to Gadsby and her work. While this was obviously a very hard-hitting book with lots of serious themes and discussions, it was also punctuated by Gadsby’s unmistakable charm, quick humour and sharp wit. I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook if you have access, so you can have it read by Gadsby herself. I feel that helped make it all the more personal.

  25. 4 out of 5

    hayls 🐴

    Mainlined this in two days. Triggers abound in this, but I think if you know anything of Hannah and Nanette you will already be aware of what they may be before you begin. I found this very validating in many ways. Probably the most significant of which is that the marriage equality plebiscite was an incredibly destructive and shame-accentuating period to live through, and the fact that the whole thing is now remembered as a largely positive event due to the outcome, as everyone leans towards a Mainlined this in two days. Triggers abound in this, but I think if you know anything of Hannah and Nanette you will already be aware of what they may be before you begin. I found this very validating in many ways. Probably the most significant of which is that the marriage equality plebiscite was an incredibly destructive and shame-accentuating period to live through, and the fact that the whole thing is now remembered as a largely positive event due to the outcome, as everyone leans towards a consequentialist ethical view, is very upsetting. The collateral damage does matter. I will never not be angry about this.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    If you thought watching Nanette on Netflix was painful, in this book Gadsby goes into what it was like for her to write it, structure it and perform it, over and over, with varying degrees of hurt depending on her mental state and the audience response. Performing the show so many times seems to have blunted the sharp edges of the pain for her, and it's not quite as raw as in the show, but the hurt is still very much there. She also tells us about her childhood, her relationship with her family a If you thought watching Nanette on Netflix was painful, in this book Gadsby goes into what it was like for her to write it, structure it and perform it, over and over, with varying degrees of hurt depending on her mental state and the audience response. Performing the show so many times seems to have blunted the sharp edges of the pain for her, and it's not quite as raw as in the show, but the hurt is still very much there. She also tells us about her childhood, her relationship with her family and her peers, and her relationship to her sexuality, including the political landscape of Tasmania and the internalised homophobia she grew up with. As far as retelling her physical and sexual assault, except for the sexual abuse she went through as a child, she doesn't go into much more detail than she does in the show, in case that's holding you back from reading this book. Gadsby's mother is a central figure in this book, and she seems like the kind of person who is rude a lot without necessarily meaning to be hurtful, but it comes across as kind of mean nonetheless. That said, Gadsby appears to have a good relationship with her. After watching the show, I wanted to know more about her background in art history, and there's more about that in this book. Her art documentary, called "Nakedy Nudes", is also available on YouTube and Amazon Prime, so that's on my watch list next. That was also an exhausting experience for her to film, since none of the men she interviewed seemed to be particularly self-aware, or understand the point of the questions she was asking them. We also learn about her interactions with the audience during and after the performances and how she created a few sensory safety measures to accommodate her autism in extremely clever ways. I can strongly recommend the audiobook version of this book, which is read by Gadsby herself and includes snippets from the Netflix special for additional context.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zrinka Sinkovic lavi

    While I know from reading her book and watching her stand ups that very few things are effortless, her beautiful writing and her amazing humor do feel efortless. I loved the book so much, even the tough to read painful bits. But most of all I loved how beautifully and relatably she describes neurodivergence and everything that comes with it. I am also in complete awe of her strength. Wow. What a treasure 🖤

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    First, I’ll say if you loved the Netflix special Hannah Gadsby: Nanette, this should be an automatic read. Which is what it was for me and I discovered while reading that Gadsby had dealt with agoraphobia. It isn’t a focus of the book, and it’s a brief moment where she discusses having stopped taking her medication and traveling and ending up not being able to leave her apartment for weeks. The focus of the book is her life and how she came to write the standup special about trauma. She’s funny First, I’ll say if you loved the Netflix special Hannah Gadsby: Nanette, this should be an automatic read. Which is what it was for me and I discovered while reading that Gadsby had dealt with agoraphobia. It isn’t a focus of the book, and it’s a brief moment where she discusses having stopped taking her medication and traveling and ending up not being able to leave her apartment for weeks. The focus of the book is her life and how she came to write the standup special about trauma. She’s funny and brilliant and just very thoughtful as she discusses growing up in Tasmania, spending a lot of her life undiagnosed with ADHD and ASD, living with trauma, depression, growing up in a homophobic world, her relationship with her family, and finding her place and building a career in comedy. There’s a lot here on trauma and finding your way through and I love the conversations she’s opened up, and how she is able to tell her stories with the knowledge she has today while also explaining what she didn’t know/understand or have access to at the time. I will watch and read anything she creates. She narrates the audiobook and I highly recommend that format, which inserts audio from performances, if it’s a format you read in. (TW Gadsby kindly provides a heads-up at the beginning of the book. Here are my notes: suicidal ideation/fatphobia/homophobia, homophobic violence/ableism/child molestation/sexual harassment/sexual assault) https://bookriot.com/agoraphobia-books/

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    "There is just never a straight line to be found through a life punctuated by trauma. " I don't like memoirs. But a memoir by an autistic, gay, feminist, Tasmanian woman who happens to be the magnificent Hannah Gadsby, is just what needs to be included in the thousands of memoirs written by "normative", successful, white people that make a reader's eyes water with boredom. And Hannah doesn't disappoint. She is as raw, real, funny, and authentic as she was in her one-hour special, Nanette. This is "There is just never a straight line to be found through a life punctuated by trauma. " I don't like memoirs. But a memoir by an autistic, gay, feminist, Tasmanian woman who happens to be the magnificent Hannah Gadsby, is just what needs to be included in the thousands of memoirs written by "normative", successful, white people that make a reader's eyes water with boredom. And Hannah doesn't disappoint. She is as raw, real, funny, and authentic as she was in her one-hour special, Nanette. This is a voice, a story that needs to be heard. The result is an understanding and compassion for all the different perspectives in the world, and how the world wants to quash those differences with intolerance. As the grandmother of a glorious autistic grandchild, Hannah's experiences of her own autism were illuminating and refreshing. Brilliant and wise. I loved spending these hours in Hannah's generous life.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aislin

    Before the rest of my review I want to make a note that I have never actually seen the full version of Nanette, but I have seen clips and heard about it a lot. I didn't feel like not seeing it got in the way of reading this memoir. (However, I am planning to watch it now!!) It's hard to say I enjoyed reading this book because it's honestly pretty heavy and discusses a lot of trauma. But I did like the book despite the discomfort that it brought and I'm glad that I read it and learned more about H Before the rest of my review I want to make a note that I have never actually seen the full version of Nanette, but I have seen clips and heard about it a lot. I didn't feel like not seeing it got in the way of reading this memoir. (However, I am planning to watch it now!!) It's hard to say I enjoyed reading this book because it's honestly pretty heavy and discusses a lot of trauma. But I did like the book despite the discomfort that it brought and I'm glad that I read it and learned more about Hannah Gadsby. The writing is quite funny but also deeply emotional and vulnerable. I'd definitely say this leans more towards serious than comedic, although you can tell the author is a comedian. The book is organized roughly chronologically and you follow the author from a young age up until the release of Nanette. Later in the book, there are also quotes from the special itself mixed in. I learned a lot from this book (in particular about LGBTQ+ history in Tasmania) and I would recommend it, especially to people who like memoirs and people who like Nanette. TW: rape, sexual assault, child abuse, homophobia, ableism (and possibly more- there is heavy content in this book) Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC to review.

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