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I Totally Meant to Do That Paperback – Mar 2011

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 59 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Standup Comedy Act - Yes, Novel - Not Quite 16 April 2011
By VReviews - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jane Borden spent about a decade in New York City doing what apparently many a college graduate southerner does, and that is simply continue the "frat" life in the city that never sleeps. Jane divided her autobiography into three sections (Dive, Sink, Surface) to delineate the major epochs of her life in the big city. Within each section are chapters that are more or less stand alone short stories, rather than a fully conceptualized development of her experiences and reflections as she grapples with the dichotomies between New York and North Carolina.

In the first section aptly titled "Dive", Jane's dialogue is full of visual interest, and laugh-out-loud moments that will have you fully engaged as she literally seems to dive into a completely different life-style with North Carolina mores as her compass.

At the start of the second section titled "Sink", Jane relates the story about her Aunt Jane and the manners book. Here we begin to really get a feel for the differences between New York, and small town North Carolina. We also, get a glimpse of Jane's working and social life in New York. So there is an expectation that you're about to understand who Jane is beyond the surface. But that depth never comes, and with each subsequent chapter, Jane becomes oddly more and more distance as a person. As each chapter seems more random and haphazard, Jane begins to rely almost exclusively on her Thesaurus to form sentences. So awkward does the story telling become, that by the time the third section "surfaces", you really don't know who this person is, nor do you care.

The concept of this book was a great one, as was the promise of the first chapters; but the execution of the novel as a whole fell short, and really ended up as more of an outline of what a more accomplished writer might do. There never was a section titled "Swim", and that is appropriate here, for this story never quite does.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining but Bland 1 April 2011
By Billie Vanderburg - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a Southerner born and bred and spent 2 years living 'up North' so I was eager to read this memoir and get Jane's perspective on the two cultures at variance. It was mildly entertaining but I found myself wanting to skip over some paragraphs that just seemed to be page fillers without any true context to the story (vignette) being told. There was too much detail to some stories and not nearly enough to others. I loved the 'Aunt Jane' stories possibly because I had an 'Aunt Marie' who was so similar. Her recollections reminded me of things my (also childless) aunt would tell me and my two sisters: "Ladies don't sweat", "You need to use a little more eyebrow color", "A few highlights in your hair wouldn't hurt at all", "It looks like you have gained a couple of pounds since I saw you last, you know you better watch that". We loved her dearly, but that is just the kind of things Aunts say in the South - they are family. So I guess I wish there were more family stories. We are never really introduced to any of her friends or roommates in NYC and I firmly believe we are known by the company we keep so I didn't feel like I got to know Jane. I found the book to be amusing and there were some funny moments, but after I read it, I wanted to ask 'So?'

I will pass this book along to a young friend (also from 'the South') who is currently living up in NYC and loving every minute of it. Maybe she will have a different perspective and can will share her opinion.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Humorous in Spots, But Not Laugh Out Loud Funny 7 Mar. 2011
By Frederick S. Goethel - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Being a New Englander originally, and having a wife who was raised in the South, I get the premise of the book, as well as the "jokes" she tells. She expected to sow her wild oats in New York for a while and then move back to North Carolina to settle down. A lot of students from the South do that.

That she stayed in New York for a much longer period than expected is not a story in itself, nor is the fact that she is torn between living in New York and North Carolina. I haven't lived in New England in well over 20 years, and I still miss it, but that doesn't make for a compelling story. Yes, some of her escapades were humorous, but as another reviewer said....she's no Mark Twain.

The book is well written, but lacks any real connective issues. It wasn't for me, but maybe it will be for you.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I Find Jane Totally Endearing 4 Feb. 2011
By Diane B. Wilkes - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While Ed Helms' endorsement of I TOTALLY MEANT TO DO THAT by Jane Borden made me consider taking a chance on this book, my real motivation was more complex. I'm a Philly-bred University of North Carolina-Wannabe. I admire everything about the Tar Heels Basketball team, in particular Dean Smith's legacy. One of my realized missions in life was going to Chapel Hill and visit the UNC Basketball Museum and I am as proud of the class my team shows off the court as if I reared (as opposed to raised) them myself. I have even adopted a contempt for all things Duke. So a book written by a UNC graduate exploring her adopted city and contrasting it with her North Carolinian lifestyle had a certain allure for me.

Borden is a delightful writer--witty, sincere, self-deprecating, and entertaining. Her essays on the differences between NC and NYC (much more pronounced than just the difference of the one little letter Y) culture are dead on, and written with good intent towards both. For Borden, living in NYC means the freedom to not just seek adventure, but to do so with anonymity--something never afforded her in her hometown. There are positives and negatives in the frenetic chaos of NYC and the meticulous order of the elegant hot-house culture of Greensboro high society (a term I never imagined using).

As Borden continued to (Harris) teeter-totter between the two lifestyles, I thought she'd finally marry NYC, because she disclosed such detailed accounts of her grimy, sloppy and occasionally dangerous living standards. Who wants to return home in shame? But she was careful to avoid almost any mention of her romantic life which seems to me a hedging of bets. I, personally, was grateful--most books of this nature are saturated with endless anecdotes of every step of disastrous mating dances. This book is a refreshing change.

In order to discover which lifestyle she ultimately chooses--and why--read the book. But not only to solve that particular mystery, but to enjoy Borden's wonderful way with words. And, if you're like me, to relish mentions of the 2009 Tar Heels championship run. I particularly loved her story about her cousin Calder, who taught his dog to play dead when asked, "Sugaree, would you rather go to Duke or be a dead dog?"

And, having watched a special about James Taylor and Carole King and singer/songwriters just the other night, I really understood the attractiveness of two very different mentalities. Rock and roll crazyman Lester Bangs wrote a fantasy about defenestrating the mellow James Taylor ("Marked for Death"), a native North Carolinian who exemplifies and revels in the laid back lifestyle. Sometimes you want to walk on the wild side; sometimes you want to go back to Carolina with more than your mind.

Borden understands the desire for both, and illuminates both lifestyles beautifully in I TOTALLY MEANT TO DO THAT.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Pretty Good First Book. 14 Jun. 2011
By Richard S. Dixon Jr. - Published on
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book very much. I think Jane gives a pretty entertaining view of what life is like to be Southern and in New York. Sometimes I think she leans a bit too hard on stereotypes, but, Greensboro IS a fairly Southern town and Danville is a weirdly Southern town, so believe me, some of those stereotypes are justified. As her old history teacher, I wish she had revealed more about that mysterious "boarding school in Virginia," as I think there are many many stories to be told (spoiler alert: Jane was an engaging and intelligent student!). Well, maybe that's stuff for her next book.
I think the gold standard for modern humorous essays on New York still is Ian Frazier's collection, Gone to New York, but then he is a wizened veteran of the essay genre; Jane does a fine job and this book has sent me looking for her other essays. This is a great summer read.
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