Nonfiction Reviews: The Last Black Unicorn and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Posted November 23, 2018 / Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Nonfiction Reviews: The Last Black Unicorn and I’ll Be Gone in the DarkThe Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir
Published by Simon and Schuster on December 5, 2017
Format: Audiobook (288 pages) • Source: Scribd
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From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.

I absolutely loved Tiffany Haddish in GIRLS TRIP and wanted to make it a point to see as many things as possible with her in them. I loved her even more when I learned about her favorite expensive white dress that she planned to wear to multiple events. Her explaining how she grew up without a lot of money and was homeless at eighteen inspired me to pick up her memoir; it sounded like she led an interesting life!

Her memoir was fascinating – she really did have some wild experiences over the years. I enjoy a good celebrity memoir, as long as it’s someone I like or am interested in, and this was a great audio experience to finish off one of my reading challenges.

I think the writing style wasn’t particularly wonderful, with quite a bit of repetition, but hearing her read the story was perfect. She talked about her childhood, getting into comedy, being homeless, and more. I can’t emphasize enough though… she has had QUITE a life. I appreciate how far she’s come and the fact that she has a memoir to share all of these experiences. I think my main complaints are about the writing style and how often certain words or phrases were repeated, even within the same passages, but the way she reads the story definitely suits her personality.

Nonfiction Reviews: The Last Black Unicorn and I’ll Be Gone in the DarkI'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime
Published by Harper Collins on February 27th 2018
Format: Audiobook (352 pages) • Source: Scribd
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A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

"You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark."

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

True crime podcasts are my JAM but the first true crime book I tried to read didn’t really go according to plan… even though I was fascinated by the case (and still am! Thanks, Serial season one). I was determined to make it happen though, specifically for one of my reading challenges. I was first introduced to Michelle McNamara through the My Favorite Murder podcast, as they spoke about her quite a bit in some of the earlier episodes. She ended up passing away in 2016 before she could finish her final book about the Golden State Killer, but her husband (Patton Oswalt) decided to finish it up in her honor. I knew I wanted to read it for a variety of reasons… and then they CAUGHT the guy, after the crime was unsolved for about 30 years. I knew I had to pick this book. Again, Scribd’s audiobook selection was excellent and there it was.

I think McNamara is a suuuuper talented writer and the audiobook narrator made me feel like the author was reading it to me, if that makes sense. McNamara made a gruesome story into something with smart metaphors and descriptions, which I didn’t expect. As I mentioned before, though, she passed away before the book could be published or even finished. Her husband and others worked to pull ALL of her research together (as well as some other articles and stories she wrote on the topic) to make a book. While there was a solid narrative overall, it wasn’t super cohesive in my opinion? I could tell that they had pulled everything together and had to fill in gaps instead of making it the way she may have intended. The chapters felt slightly out of order but I tried to view them as individual stories instead of one whole book, if that makes sense. There was a bit of repetition.

I’m so glad I read this book though – I knew McNamara would be the best “true crime” option for that Popsugar reading challenge. I can’t imagine how wonderful this book would have been if she were able to finish it up herself instead.

4 responses to “Nonfiction Reviews: The Last Black Unicorn and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

  1. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was so well-written. She knows how to tell a story. I had trouble going to bed at night after reading because it gave me the creeps. I am so glad he has been caught. I am not surprised you liked this one!

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