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September 22, 2011

‘You Must Go and Win’ … Or At Least TRY to Make Some Kind of Effort
by WomenInComedy - 0

By WICF Contributor Allison Haskins

THIS BOOK HAS PICTURES!! I don’t care how old you are, it makes a book more exciting. I wanted to get that out there first and foremost in case you were having doubts about this kick-ass book review.

Alina Simone’s first novel, You Must Go and Win reads like a text book … if the text book were about castration and Eight Foot Brides (don’t worry — there are no castration pictures, but there ARE Eight Foot Bride ones!). There are parts of this book that are laugh out loud funny, parts that teach you about the Russian spiritualist group the Doukhorbors, and no shortage of Alina’s personal anecdotes which always manage to read as gloomy, comical, and inspirational, all at the same time.

Soon after her parents emigrated from Kharkov, Ukraine to a small town in Massachusetts when she was only one-year old, Alina became itchy to find her niche in the world. Music seemed to stand out to her and she thoroughly describes the personal struggle that it takes attempting to attain a successful music career — or for that matter, any big goal in life. She moved many times, lived in less than ideal places, often had audiences of a handful of souls, or even fewer, and finally toyed with the idea of throwing in the towel on indie rock music altogether.

After finishing You Must Go and Win, I was comforted to know that I am not alone in my overwhelming “Pessimistic-optimism”, as I like to call it. Alina, like me, seems to spend every waking moment having gigantic dreams and doing her best to accomplish them while simultaneously nitpicking and doubting every action. Alina chooses to fight the battle of pessimism by using some rare sources of inspiration. Of course, her Ph.D.-holding father is a man of few words, who, when he does speak, has some top notch insights to pass along – but then, too, the slogan of a courier service in New York is another area of inspiration for Alina, as well as…. Britney, bitch. (That’s right — Miss Spears can teach positive life lessons too!)

As said by the “Punk Monk” who is an actual real-day Monk who moonlights as Alina’s guru: “When you are not working on yourself, the world starts to work on you instead … you must acquire the skill to be yourself.” I love quotes like these because you can apply them to practically any situation and I honestly feel that any person could get something out of it. Go on, re-read that quote then take a minute and get lost in your fancy schmancy thoughts. You feel good now, right? Inspired? Told you!!

Another source of motivation for Alina was a Siberian punk-folk singer named Yanka Dyagileva (disclaimer: this book is not short on unpronounceable names). Alina was so touched by the songs and the life story of this artist that she has actually created a whole album covering her songs, ‘Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware,’ and has devoted several years to learning about and even living in Siberia.  New England winters are cold enough for me, thanks, but good you for, Alina!

I don’t want to have to include any spoiles in here, so just do yourself a favor and read the book. Or, if you’re not a fan of reading, yet you’ve managed to make it to the end of this review, you should at least take your tech-savvy butt to

Allison Haskins holds a Journalism degree and is a freelance comedy writer.  In her spare time, the Massachusetts native attends as many stand-up shows as possible and listens to every comedy podcast she can get her hands on. Follow Allison on Twitter at

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