I was stranded in O'Hare Airport, but I was laughing. Not that sadistic, why-am-I-stuck-in-this-awful-place type laugh, but actually giggling to the point that I had to put down Susan Gilman's Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress so that I would stop embarrassing myself. In Hypocrite, Gilman recounts her New York City upbringing with humor, wit, and brutal honesty, making it the funniest book I've read in quite a while.

Gilman writes in her introduction, "Although I was taught never to let the truth get in the way of a good story, the tales here are true?or, at least, I've recounted them as honestly as I can remember them." As Gilman's memoir proves, sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Hypocrite is full of rock stars, transcendental mediation, hippie movies, and even a sojourn to a Holocaust site with a bus full of teenagers. In any other book, this combination would fall flat because of the sheer disbelief of these events. In Gilman's hands, they could happen to anyone.

The events of Gilman's life sound more or less like anyone else's, but she presents them with a moving and entertaining insight. She lies at show and tell so she can stand out to her classmates, informing them that she is changing her name to Sapphire and is dancing as Clara in the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker. She is unceremoniously fired from her first job for spilling three gallons of orange juice all over the cash register, and then tells her father that she wants to start a belly-dancing telegram company. She writes about a Yiddish heavy metal band and the Star of David Motorcycle Club (a Jewish alternative to Hell's Angels) for The Jewish Week. Gilman's experiences may have a little more color, but everyone can remember exaggerating in preschool, hating the first food service job, or finding a niche in a career that doesn't seem to fit right out of college.

Gilman also explores larger issues with an appropriate humor, such as racial tensions in the 1960's and her own family's divorce. Gilman's mother has to explain to her that being Puerto Rican is more than just getting to wear a pretty first communion dress and a nationality isn't something to choose. Gilman writes, "[The blacks' and Hispanics'] toughness wasn't a luxury or a fashion statement. It was a survival kit, plain and simple. But we little white kids were too young and na?ve to see that. All we saw when we looked at them was their strength and indifference, coupled with style?the fundamental essence of Cool." Growing up in New York City, Gilman encountered these racial tensions everywhere and she recounts how her hippie upbringing played into her experiences.

Gilman writes, "It's my hope that these 'coming of age' stories will make readers laugh, and prove once and for all that a girl doesn't need a guy in her life in order to act like a complete idiot. Certainly I, at least, never have." Not only does Gilman make her readers laugh, but her complete idiocy is entertaining and hits close to home. It brings out the idiot in all of us, making it easy to laugh at your childhood.