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The New York Regional Mormon Singles…

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir

by Elna Baker

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I first heard of Elna Baker on the Moth podcast which, if you've never listened to it, you should try it out, and prepare for ugly crying on the subway. On the Moth, Baker told an abridged version a story from her memoir - a book that deals mostly with her life in New York, trying to date as an overweight twenty-something, and a Mormon. The title alludes to an annual event in the Mormon community to which Baker returns year after year like a recurring nightmare, or a gym membership. If you're looking to try a memoir on for size but aren't quite ready for the episodic sexcapades of Isaac Oliver, this book might work for you.

Baker is a lovely storyteller, which is why I finally picked up the book. She speaks very plainly and genuinely from the heart on every subject - from being the "funny" sibling, to battling her religious roots, to nearly ODing on diet pills. Her frank portrayal of modern Mormonism isn't fully fleshed out - she seems, as of 2009, to still have been battling with her own beliefs and as a result, reading it can sometimes feel like watching shadow puppets while the real players hide behind the curtain.

I am self-confessed ignoramus when it comes to most religions, but probably most especially Mormonism. I often accidentally confuse it with the Mennonites - not because I'm stupid or purposely ignorant or anything, but probably because of the clothes. I just get confused. Those bonnets throw me off. After reading Baker's memoir, I can't confess to being much the wiser on the subject. But beyond that, I did get the sister-in-arms feeling that I think she was going for. Being single in this city is certainly daunting, and being an outsider in one way or another intensifies that feeling. Baker's story provides more insight than hope on that subject, perhaps an effect of writing a memoir so early in life, before the arc could be fully formed. Her writing is sweet and bubbly, and the kind of thing that I wish I'd been able to read when I was starting out in New York. As a mostly-jaded established New Yorker now, it's a little flat.

www.theliterarygothamite.com ( )
  laurscartelli | Mar 26, 2016 |
After reading some other reviews let me start by saying that I am not a Mormon - I just hate this book. I can't imagine that this woman could be any more selfish. Through out the course of the book you find discover that her family is deeply religious and very committed to their faith. Initially we think that this is true of the author as well as she struggles with dating and all that entails (ie:kissing) as a 28+ year old virgin. By the end of the book she has left her religion and become quite sexually active. I respect her choices but cannot imagine what these tales are doing to her family. Sometimes less is more . When it comes to one's sex life more is just more. Yuck! ( )
  knitwit2 | Nov 10, 2013 |
This was not a book that was recommended by someone who had read it, and I had never heard of Elna Baker as a writer or comedian. My husband spotted the book at a book sale and and told me that the title sounded like something I would like to read. I was intrigued by the title and the opening lines (by which I am guilty of "judging" how I will like a book) drew me in, so I bought it.

Elna Baker's book is an easy, humorous read in which she reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings about her life and her religion and her relationships with friends, boyfriends and family. ( )
  PeggyK49 | Oct 11, 2013 |
This is one of those books that people either seem to love or hate. And most of the hate seems to either come from people within the LDS Church who think that Elna Baker's depiction of being in a Singles Ward and a member of the Church are somehow lies or just exaggerations. And, of course, there are the people who say that she is being narcissistic and self-centered by writing this book because she only talks about how things pertain to her, but that's kind of the point since this is a memoir. Then there are the people who are easily offended by the content, which could be a problem for some for more conservative backgrounds (i.e. many Mormons) and who are more comfortable with G and PG books and movies. Personally, though, I think this book is easy to relate to, humorous, and nowhere near as "obscene" as some folks claim.

Baker's position in her own family is as the Funny One, which totally makes sense because this book is very funny. She has a quirky sense of humor. Her wit kept me laughing through much of the story. The only times where it didn't were when she was very open about her struggles with weight loss and with finding love, which is especially difficult for her since she is an atypical (meaning liberal) Mormon struggling to find her place in the world, as well as in a church she grew up in. It is extremely easy to empathize with her awkwardness and her sadness. And I completely understand what it feels like to want, from youth, to be beautiful and to feel attractive. Her explanation, especially in the part where she lets her body talk, made me sob...a lot. It is just so poignant and raw and real.

Her writing makes it easy to realize that some people that she's met in her life are rather horrid individuals, among them Jeff, the white women who purchased dolls at FAO Schwarz, and her almost fiance. Jeff's taking advantage of her, convincing her to let him touch her breasts under her bra (though she only was comfortable with his hands being over her bra), then telling her to keep that event between the two of them--as though he was ashamed of what he did with her. The white women who were so obviously racist because they were so closed-minded that they couldn't imagine letting their precious daughters play with a doll that looks like it is a minority. And her almost fiance who would talk down to her and seemed to like to "put her in her place" so that he could act like he was better than her. They were just absolutely pathetic.

This book wasn't perfect, but it was still great. There were some minor editing issues with it--nothing too awful. Overall, I think it was one of the best memoirs that I've read in a while. ( )
  janersm | Oct 2, 2013 |
This book is officially one of my all time favorite books. Elna Baker is without a doubt one of the most amazing people on the planet. She's such a great role model for young people. Living as a Mormon in NYC can't be easy and in this book Elna goes into great detail about the constant temptation she felt while living there to do things that were outside of her character and against her faith. Somehow she managed to stay true to herself. Listening to her take on sex, famous/rich people, men, and Mormons in NYC is absolutely hilarious. Elna's devotion to God is so deep that she makes you question your own faith and beliefs. You'll laugh, want to cry, and feel inspired as you follow Elna through her adventures in NYC, her relationship with an Atheist with whom she falls madly in love, her questions about religion and God, and her struggle with her body image. You'll never look at armpits the same after reading this lol. ( )
  russell.alynn | Apr 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Baker is both self-absorbed and generous, whip-smart and naïve; she apologizes for none of it.
added by Katya0133 | editPeople, Beth Perry (Oct 19, 2009)
Overall, Baker's voice is so fresh and funny she deserves a large audience. . . . The Virgin in the City spin may have helped Baker garner a national book deal. But what makes her story more of a revelation is that by facing her doubts and hypocrisy, Baker is able to find new ways to explore her own maturing faith
added by Katya0133 | editSalt Lake Tribune, Ellen Fagg Weist (Oct 17, 2009)
For the most part, Baker spins a witty girly-girl story, a romantic caper for ladies about trying to find a job, a boyfriend and, ultimately, herself.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus Reviews (Oct 15, 2009)
Baker, who is also a standup comic, tells a funny, touching story about coming to the big city, where she loses the certainty of her beliefs, if not her way. New York does that to people.
added by Katya0133 | editNew York Daily News., Sherryl Connely (Oct 11, 2009)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525951350, Hardcover)

"A wickedly funny debut. Baker is both self-absorbed and generous, whip-smart and naïve; she apologizes for none of it."

It's lonely being a Mormon in New York City. Every year, Elna Baker attends the New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. This year, her Queen Bee costume (which involves a funnel stinger stuck to her butt) isn't attracting the attention she'd anticipated. So once again, Elna finds herself alone, standing at the punch bowl, stocking up on Oreos, a virgin in a room full of thirty-year-old virgins doing the Funky Chicken. But loneliness is nothing compared to what Elna feels when she loses eighty pounds, finds herself suddenly beautiful...and in love with an atheist.

Brazenly honest, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance is Elna Baker's hilarious and heartfelt chronicle of her attempt to find love in a city full of strangers and see if she can steer clear of temptation and just get by on God.

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek memoir, writer, actress, and gorgeous stand up comedian Elna Baker tells what it's like to be the Mormon "Tina Fey"--the girl who distresses her family when she chooses NYU over BYU; the girl who's cultivating an oxymoronic identity as a bold, educated, modern, funny, proper, abstinent, religious stand-up comic, equal parts wholesome and hot.… (more)

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