Happy Accidents

Some celebrity memoirists are preeningly coy; others over-divulge. Jane Lynch, the actor who embodies Glee's Sue Sylvester with such pugilistic panache, wisely strides through her first 50 years in Happy Accidents with more zip than wallow. Her candor is unafflicted by over-dramatization, and every chapter or so she lands a deft punch line.

Written chronologically, Happy Accidents covers Lynch's cozy childhood, self-actualization efforts and career strivings before it gets to Glee. Despite a tendency to sum up personal growth in New Age buzzwords, the actual scenes Lynch recreates are specific and sharp. She hears the word "gay" for the first time at the age of 12 and realizes that a) it applies to her, and b) in suburban 1970s Illinois it was "a disease and a curse." Of her remarkably effective stint in Alcoholics Anonymous, she says, "Had I known that in AA one of the things you do is tell your drinking story over and over, I would have made mine much more interesting."

The account of Lynch's ascendance in Happy Accidents is instructive for any aspiring actor. She makes her own luck by earning an MFA in classical theater, auditioning promiscuously, hawking Frosted Flakes on TV, nabbing roles originally written for men and honing the improv skills that drive her smartly unhinged cameos in Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The memoir's happy ending entwines Lynch's showbiz home on Glee with the emotional home she builds after she crosses paths with her future wife, a meet-cute that is documented by one of the many charming photographs reproduced in Happy Accidents. The title fits, but Lynch's talent and charisma deserve equal billing. --Holloway McCandless, blogger at Litagogo: A Guide to Free Literary Podcasts

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