Work sucks. Have a heart for the gal serving your Dewars and water. Those are the life lessons of this tour de résumé by Shear, the Brooklyn-born actress who turned her dreary employment history—65 jobs at last count—into an acclaimed, one-woman show of the same name Off-Broadway last year.
Shear comes on like an instant best friend with her sad-funny down-and-dirty tales from the odd-job front, including stints as a nude model ("feeling all breasts and skin and hair...with a man staring intently at me...it was great!"), Italian film actress ("the set was a cage of bars filled with red velvet poufs") and whorehouse receptionist ("I envied the girls... because they dressed up and wore lipstick and guys liked them").
Beneath the bluster, though, is one miserable woman who knows the folly of holing up at home in her grotty sweat clothes and numbing her pain with burgers and fries. (Being fat doesn't have the "poetic cachet of alcohol, the whiff of danger in the drug of choice," she writes; it's simply "the absolute nadir of the misfit.") Still, despite its smarts and disarming honesty, the book disappoints. Onstage it was Shear herself, big body and soul, who entertained and endeared you; without her, Sideways has no heft at all. (Dial, $15.95)