Halpern, Justin. Sh*t My Dad Says. It Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0061992704 176 pp. $16.99
Not what I expected–I follow Justin’s often hilarious Twitter stream, and was pleasantly surprised this is well-written and well-composed–anecdotes that reveal character, and not just a rehashing of the set-in-the- present Twitter stream. Chapters are arranged mostly in chronological order of Justin’s life. In between each chapter are half a dozen stand-alone quotes of his dad’s ramblings, some recollected from childhood. Although one or two in each group may be familiar, this doesn’t have the feel of a revamp. There were many laugh-out-loud moments. I especially love the warm portrayal of a father who may sometimes think Justin is a bonehead, but will still stand up for him. Justin is admiringly fearless in showing his dumb moments, and what he learned from them. This memoir finishes on a highly appealing note, with just the right blend of poignancy and funny.
The Kindle version doesn’t have the photos! Thankfully, they are posted on Amazon. Hilarious!
This is a book with wide appeal, because there are a lot of universals here: first fight, first girlfriend, first self-discovery, the family road trip… it’s a hard book to put down, and it’s an easy, breezy read. I can see it being reassuring that no matter how tough life feels sometimes, you’ll get through it and maybe even find a bit of humor. I think funny books get a bad rap. Humor is HARD to write, and write well, and I never feel like Justin’s going for a cheap laugh, or just making crap up. it’s great to find a funny book that is genuine and not filled with hyperbole (Chelsea Handler) or shock value (Sarah Silverman).