By Merrill Markoe
Villard, $24.00, 270 pages

Cool, Calm, & Contentious is a collection of essays by Emmy award winning comedy writer, Merrill Markoe, sharing personal moments, which include not only comedy and laughter, but also heartbreak and pain. The essay subjects are randomly diverse. She is painfully honest and nails certain stereotypes with zinging clarity, yet the book is slow moving and boring at times.

The beauty of an essay collection is skipping to the next story. Each reader may find different essays more or less engaging. One essay written by the dog, so to speak, just didn’t keep me reading. And yes, I am a dog lover. The essays exploring narcissism are painfully accurate for anyone familiar with these traits. I think fans of Merrill Markoe will find the book enjoyable as she shares deeply personal experiences that shaped who she is today. This is not however a comedic collection of essays, but a collection of eccentric musings that are at times laugh out loud funny although sometimes miss the mark.

Reviewed by Julie Finley