Every month, the best part of reading Esquire magazine is Stacey Grenrock Woods. Why, then, is her memoir, “I, California,” so disappointing? It’s simply all over the place, as its subtitle attests: “The Occasional History of a Child Actress/Tap Dancer/Record Store Clerk/Thai Waitress/Playboy Reject/Nightclub Booker/’Daily Show’ Correspondent/Recurring Character and Whatever Else.”
It begins with her childhood, much of it focused on getting a Peter Frampton poster for Christmas. If that’s the most exciting thing you can recall growing up, the reader is in trouble. Things perk up in her years of rebellion “ she poses for Playboy, only to be turned down afterward, and she becomes the recipient of unintelligible love letters from a smitten delivery boy from Thailand.
Less interesting are her days filling Johnny Depp’s Viper Room with club goers, dealing with an abortion after tiring of taking birth-control pills and achieving a degree of semi-fame with a bit part on the television show “7th Heaven,” where she struggles to pronounce the name “Regina.”
Although wit occasionally flares, it is not often enough. For someone who has been consistently funny on television (“Arrested Development,” “The Daily Show”) and every 30 days in Esquire’s pages, her own life story lacks fizz. I still love this whip-smart writer; I just want to read her write about anything but herself.