In an 1850 sonnet, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning asked, ‘How do I love thee? let me count the ways."
Almost two centuries later, entertainment legend Joan Rivers, in her new book, "I Hate everyone … Starting with Me" (Berkley Books), has a radically different take on the famous sonnet: "How do I hate thee? How much time do you have?"
"love may be a many-splendored thing," she writes, "but hate makes the world go round."
Indeed, and it makes for hilarious reading in Ms. Rivers’ latest tome, in which she is "uncensored and uninhibited," sharing exactly what’s on her mind, "and HER mind is a terrible thing to waste," the book jacket notes. "Joan lets everyone—including herself—have it in this 100 percent honest and unabashedly hilarious love letter to the hater in all of us."
Ms. Rivers, a part-time resident of Litchfield County, has been a true member of the community, serving as a special guest at a previous Tea for 200 AIDS benefit hosted by Washington realtor Gale Hammer, and a supporter of local businesses. That’s why it is no surprise she is returning to new Milford for a book signing June 10 at 1 p.m. at the Bank Street Book Nook.
"We are so lucky to have Joan Rivers back," said Janet Olsen Ryan, owner of the Bank Street Book Nook. "We have been used to seeing her here with her daughter and grandson, and, of course, she was here in 2009 for a signing of her books, [‘Men Are Stupid ... and they like big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty through Plastic Surgery’ and ‘Murder at the Academy Awards’].
"her publicist called and asked if we were ‘the little bookstore in new Milford,’" Ms. Ryan said, recalling that Ms. Rivers asked to conduct a book signing at the new Milford shop. "Joan Rivers shops here when she’s in town, and she special orders books and has us send them to her in Manhattan. … She doesn’t have to come here. She could go to a big box store, but she chooses to help small local businesses. She’s always been supportive and we really appreciate that."
"I love coming to the new Milford book store," Ms. Rivers said from a limo on her way to an interview at The new York Times Tuesday afternoon. "I always use local book stores; it’s important to me to support them, and it kills me to see so many closing. I like to have a book in my hands."
She hasn’t forgotten about the Hickory Stick Book Shop in Washington, either. She said she will be appearing there in August, perhaps offering a "Conversation with Joan" in addition to a book signing. She does, after all, still maintain a residence in the area. "I’m the only one I know of who has a house in Washington, new Milford and new Preston," she said with a chuckle.
And though she loves Litchfield County, there is still a lot to hate, at least according to "I Hate everyone."
"her new book is hilarious," Ms. Ryan reported. "You can open it to any page and burst out laughing."
Indeed, "I Hate Everyone" is an amusing read. described as a "humorous tirade on nearly everything and everyone," Kirkus Reviews referred to "I Hate Everyone" as a "raucous, biting look at life."
After all, who can resist chapters like "love Sucks," "Eat me!" "Screw Mother Nature …" and "I Hate show Business … It’s a Cruel Mistress?" and don’t forget to check out the section called "State of the Union," in which the comedienne goes state by state, offering "better, more thoughtful names for every state." rather than The Constitution State, Connecticut, she concludes, "should be called the ‘Gateway to More Interesting States’ or ‘The would You like Butter on Your Pastrami Sandwich? State.’"
In the introduction, she notes, "some things I’ve hated forever, some are new acquisitions, and some are just passing fancies. … I know what you’re thinking: ‘Joan, hate is a very strong word.’ You’re right, it is, but I use it as an umbrella term, the way mental-health professionals use the word schizophrenia as a catchall for any particular brand of crazy they can’t identify. so when I say hate, I don’t necessarily mean hate. I could also mean loathe, detest, abhor, dislike, despise or resent. See, isn’t that kinder and gentler? if you think this makes you a better person than I am, good. You’re the idiot that actually paid for this book."
"It was so much fun to write," Ms. Rivers said with a smile. "I wrote the book in bits and pieces on a plane going back and forth between new York and L.A. I would just jot things down here and there, and start laughing. The people around me probably thought I was nuts."
She finished the book in just seven months.
"It didn’t take that long to write. there is no plot," she said, "just ranting. It’s pretty easy; all you have to do is take a walk down the street. People are so rude, pushing you out of the way … so it was easy to find inspiration."
She hopes to write a second, companion book to "I Hate everyone," a sequel of sorts.
"You know the new book everyone is talking about, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey?’ Well, my book will be called ‘Forty-Eight Shades of Blue,’" she said.
When asked if she has read the former, she laughed and replied, "I lived it!"
The groundbreaking comedienne and self-made style maven is, without a doubt, a force of nature and certainly one of the hardest-working celebrities in the business. She got her big break in 1965 on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson when he told her, while still laughing, "You’re gonna be a star." She put her dreams of becoming a legitimate actress on the shelf and "became the hot girl in town," she says.
Today, she’s an internationally renowned comedienne, Tony-nominated actress, new York Times bestselling author, Emmy Award-winning television talk show host, playwright, screenwriter, motion picture director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer and cosmetic company entrepreneur, red carpet fashion laureate and businesswoman. But it hasn’t been easy. Ms. Rivers has had ups and downs in her career and has overcome adversity to reinvent herself time and again.
She did so in 2009 when she won the title of "Celebrity Apprentice" on the Donald Trump reality show of the same name, and again in 2010 with the documentary, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," which followed Ms. Rivers "as she fights tooth and nail to remain the queen of comedy." Today, she is host of the popular E! Network series "Fashion Police" and, with her daughter, Melissa, and grandson, Cooper, she stars in the reality show, "Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows best?" on the WE TV Network, which she said was just picked up for a third season. What’s next?
"We have such a good time doing that show," she said, "I’ve got ‘Fashion Police,’ which is shot weekly, and I have a tour of England coming up in October. I also have a project in the works with Melissa, but I don’t want to say too much and jinx it."
For now, Ms. Rivers is enjoying the praise "I Hate Everyone" has generated (it was released June 5) and is even amused by the fact that Costco has banned it.
"I’m really thrilled that it’s getting such great reviews," she said. "It’s already on the new York Times Summer Reading List. It’s just fabulous. and it was banned at Costco. Can you believe it?! … I think it’s the first comedy book to be banned!"
With her calendar packed, one can’t help but wonder how the 79-year-old (as of June 8) does it all.
"You’d be surprised how comfortable a nap in a limo can be," she said with a chuckle. "I’ve already got my feet up and I’m ready to go."The Bank Street Book Nook is located at 50 Bank St., new Milford. to reserve a copy or for more information, call the store at 860-354-3865, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.bankstbooknook.com.
Joan Rivers Bringing Her ‘I Hate Everyone’ Tour to New Milford