Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Schumer)

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo 
Amy Schumer, 2016
Gallery Books
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781501139888

A refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever.

Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—June 1, 1981
Where—New York City, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Towson College
Awards—(see below)
Currently—lives in Los Angeles, California

Amy Schumer has become one of the most influential figures in the entertainment industry as a stand-up comedian, actress, writer, producer, director, and now an author. In 2016 she published her memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.

Schumer's smash hit television series Inside Amy Schumer, has won a Peabody award, a Critics Choice Television Award, and two primetime Emmy awards.

She wrote and starred in her first feature-length film, Trainwreck, which dominated the 2015 summer comedy international box office and was nominated for two Golden Globes and won both the Critics Choice award for Best Actress in a Comedy, and a Hollywood Film Award for “Comedy of the Year.”

As a stand-up comedian, she continues to perform to sold-out audiences around the world. Her 2016 tour was voted Pollstar’s Comedy Tour of the Year. (From the publisher.)

Early life
Schumer was born on the Upper East Side of New York City's Manhattan to Sandra (nee Jones) and Gordon Schumer, who owned a baby furniture company. She has a younger sister, Kim Caramele, who is a comedy writer and a producer, and a brother, Jason Stein, who is a musician in Chicago, Illinois. Her father is second cousin to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. Schumer's father was born Jewish; her mother, born a Protestant, converted to Judaism. Schumer was raised Jewish and experienced antisemitism as a child.

Schumer began life in a wealthy family. At age nine, however, her father's business went bankrupt, and he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Three years later, her parents divorced, and Amy moved to Long Island where she attended high school in Rockville Centre. Upon graduation, she was voted both "Class Clown" and "Teacher's Worst Nightmare."

Schumer moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and attended Towson University, graduating with a degree in theater in 2003. After college she returned to New York City where she studied at the William Esper Studio for two years and worked as a bartender and a waitress.

Early Career
After a brief stint on Off-Broadway, Schumer started doing stand-up comedy in 2004, when she first performed at Gotham Comedy Club. In 2007, she recorded a "Live at Gotham" episode for Comedy Central, an event she considers her "big break."

After auditioning and failing for the early seasons of NBC's Last Comic Standing, Schumer was finally brought into the show. She made it to the finals of the fifth season, placing fourth. Schumer has said she enjoyed her time on the show:

[T]here was no pressure on me; I had been doing stand-up around two years. I wasn't supposed to do well. So every time I advanced it was a happy surprise. I kept it honest on the show and it served me well.

In 2008, Schumer co-starred in the Comedy Central reality show Reality Bites Back and, between 2007 and 2001, became a recurring guest on Fox News late-night program Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld. Her first Comedy Central Presents special aired on April 2, 2010. In 2011, she served as a co-host of A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus.

She has also appeared in roles on the NBC comedy series 30 Rock, the Adult Swim mockumentary series Delocated, and two HBO series: Curb Your Enthusiasm and Girls.

In 2011, Schumer appeared on the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. That year she also released a standup comedy album, Cutting.

In 2012, she acted in three indie films (Price Check, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Sleepwalk with Me) and appeared on Comedy Central's Roast of Roseanne Barr. Her standup comedy special, Mostly Sex Stuff, premiered that year to positive reviews on Comedy Central. Of her approach to stand-up, Schumer said

I don't like the observational stuff. I like tackling the stuff nobody else talks about, like the darkest, most serious thing about yourself. I talk about life and sex and personal stories and stuff everybody can relate to, and some can't.

Also in 2012, Schumer began work on a sketch comedy series for Comedy Central. The show features single-camera vignettes of Schumer playing "heightened versions" of herself. The vignettes are linked together with footage of Schumer's stand-up. The show, Inside Amy Schumer, premiered on Comedy Central in 2013. A behind-the-scenes miniseries entitled Behind Amy Schumer premiered in 2012.

In 2014, Schumer embarked on her Back Door Tour to promote the second season of her show. The show featured closing act Bridget Everett, whom Schumer cites as her favorite live performer. She also appeared as a guest on an episode of comedian Jerry Seinfeld's Internet series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in 2014.

The year 2015 proved another rewarding year: Schumer hosted the 2015 MTV Movie Awards; her film, Trainwreck, which she wrote and in which she played her first leading role, was released; she performed as the opening act for Madonna on three New York City dates of the singer's Rebel Heart Tour; and on October 17, her comedy special, Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo, premiered on HBO. (In 2016, the special was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety Special, Writing and Directing.)

On June 23, 2016, during her sold out performance at Madison Square Garden, Schumer announced her first world tour starting later that summer in Dublin. Her memoir, a collection of personal essays, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo was published to solid reviews.

Personal life
Schumer has dated professional wrestler Nick Nemeth a.k.a. Dolph Ziggler, and comedian Anthony Jeselnik. In January 2016, she indicated she was in a relationship with Chicago furniture designer Ben Hanisch. She has been friends with Taking Back Sunday drummer Mark O'Connell since childhood.

When she was 21, she and her sister Kim Schumer were arrested for grand larceny, as part of a shoplifting scheme. During an interview, she stated that it was her connection to Senator Schumer that enabled her to plead down the charge.

Book Reviews
Schumer keeps it real in The Girl with the Lower Back Tattooo. [She] is a talented storyteller.... Readers will laugh and cry, and may put the book down from moments of honesty that result in uncomfortable realistic details from her life. More important, the essays challenge readers to harness their own stories and rest in the fact that they’re good enough. Experience the world. Be bold. Love your body. It’s OK to fail and make mistakes. And lower-back tattoos can only make you stronger.
Associated Press

What [Schumer] offers here is a better, more deeply felt life-so-far book than most I've read...Schumer weaves a brave, vulnerable tale without falling into the usual celebrity traps of neediness and defense.
Chicago Tribune

[An] excellent new essay collection.... [The book] is, contrary to the postmodern parfait that is Schumer’s standard act, decidedly un-layered. It is Schumer, the celebrity, shedding Schumer, the schtick. It is a memoir that is also an unapologetic paean to self-love. In that, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo finds a new way for Schumer to be radical: It treats feminine self-confidence not in the way it is too often regarded, as a BrainyQuotable truism or an inborn gift or a fuzzy aspiration or, indeed, a source of shame, but rather as a skill like any other—something that is developed and worked at and thus, most importantly, earned.... Schumer’s stories are really, particularly good.

Amy Schumer's book will make you love her even more. For a comedian of unbridled (and generally hilarious) causticity, Schumer has written a probing, confessional, unguarded, and, yes, majorly humanizing non-memoir, a book that trades less on sarcasm, and more on emotional resonance.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is laugh-out-loud funny when Schumer wants it to be...but more often, it’s surprisingly honest and raw.... If you’re here for humor, of course, you won’t be disappointed.... But on the whole, this book is far less a portable joke factory than it is a real, deep dive into Schumer’s life, and what it’s like to be an imperfect woman and content and proud of yourself despite that.
Entertainment Weekly

The comedian's essay collection isn't just bitingly funny—it's also raw, honest, and often heartbreaking. We dare you to walk away without even greater understanding and respect for Schumer (Must List).
Entertainment Weekly

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is an alternatingly meditative, sexually explicit, side-splittingly hilarious, heart-wrenching, disturbing, passionately political and always staggeringly authentic ride through the highs and lows of the comedic powerhouse's life to date.
Harper's Bazaar

Beyond the many powerful and empowering takeaways of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo—from loving the hustle to self-love—perhaps the must overlooked is that of a woman's right to not only make mistakes, but to make art out of them.

(Starred review.) Her prose, like her popular comedy act, is plucky, forthright, hilariously raunchy—and honest.... Amid ill-fated dates, alcohol-induced blackouts, and late-night eating binges, Schumer, in these candid, well-crafted essays, wears her mistakes "like badges of honor."
Publishers Weekly

[P]rovocative...unabashed....Though the narrative sometimes lacks the literary appeal that distinguishes books from live’s consistently funny and highly readable.... A hilarious and effective memoir from a woman with zero inhibitions.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use these LitLovers talking points to start a discussion for The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo...then take off on your own:

1. What do you think of Amy Schumer after having read The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo? If you're familiar with her comedy specials and her film Trainwreak, did you read anything about her to surprise you?

2. Much of Schumer's book revolves around being an imperfect woman learning to be content despite those imperfections. Was that your take on the book? How does Schumer achieve her sense of contentment with who she is...or does she? Does the book have resonance with you (and your own imperfections...that is, if you have any!)?

3. Schumer insists at the beginning that this is NOT a self-help book and that it offers no advice. Is she correct? What about urging women to leave abusive relationships? Does she offer other encouragement elsewhere?

4. Talk about Schumer's father and her relationship with him. She says that she has "been mourning him while he's still alive." How does that section affect you, especially when she writes of the two of them surfing for the last time?

5. In addition to writing about her father, are there other sections of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo that your find particularly poignant?

6. What does Schumer write about her mother? Is it fair to remain angry at your parents' past mistakes once you reach adulthood? (Nora Ephron once said there was a statute of limitations for anger toward parents.)

7. Follow-up to Questions 4-6: What impact have Schumer's childhood and teenaged years had on her life and her career? In what way do you think her past has inspired her comedy?

8. Early in the book, Schumer writes, "Damn, it’s hard to write a book and not get yelled at.” What does she mean? Is that observation more true of women then men?

9. What does Schumer have to say about women's magazines? Do you agree or disagree?

10. Schumer mentions her vagina nearly two dozen times in her memoir: is that too much...just right? Is it funny? Do you appreciate her frankness when it comes to what has long (i.e., forever) been a taboo subject for female conversation?

11. Does the humor in this book live up to your expectations? Does Schumer's writing have the same voice as her stage, film, and tv performances? What sections, if any, do you find laugh-out-loud funny?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online of off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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