Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Tip

So many great books and hardly any time
to read 'em when you think about it
Those familiar with my reading habits know that I read about 20 non-fiction books for every work of fiction I read. What fiction I've read over the past couple of years have been classics, because I've felt horribly deficient in this area and now approaching the beginning of my eighth decade on this planet, it's about time I acquaint myself with stuff the cognoscenti advise that you should read, especially if you want to be like them. I don't necessarily, but I laid this guilt trip on myself long ago and it's become like my skin. It gets older and flakes off--by the way, did you know that about 60 percent of "dust" --hmm, was it dust in the air or dust in the house--anyway, over 60 percent of it is human skin.

So about this guilt trip: I've read War and Peace, the whole damn thing! I'm in the (slow) process of reading Dreiser's An American Tragedy. And I've got several Dickens novels in the queue. Reason this fiction reading is so slow is I keep distracting myself with non-fiction stuff that just demands that I read it first. More on that in a minute.

And of course there's stuff connected with my writing that must be read. For example, right now I'm working on a short biography of Hack Wilson, a Hall of Fame baseball player for the Chicago Cubs in late 1920s and early '30s. So I have to read stuff about him. And there's always a Civil War project that I have to read for. And, God, the magazines. I have resubscribed to The New Yorker, which almost always has great stuff. But it is every week, for Pete's sake. Y'all know about Harper's because I blog stuff out of it. But there's also The Atlantic and Lapham's Quarterly. Miscellaneous but regular publications put out by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), the daily newspaper, an occasional dip into Susan's Newsweek and bigger dips into her Vanity Fairs when they come.

All of which leads me to the tip I promised you in the title. It is, I swear to you, one of the funniest things I've ever read: Sh*t My Dad Says. By a guy named Justin Halpren. I have laughed out loud quite a few times. I have laughed till I cried. Woke Susan up last night in fact with my half-stifled chortles. The guy's dad is a doctor, an oncologist. And he has not only a raging potty mouth, a truly unique way of expressing himself, and a, shall we say unique take on life and parenting. I have to add this proviso. This book will make you laugh, I promise, but only if you have a sense of humor that's a bit cracked . . . or maybe completely around the bend like I do. But apparently a lot of people do also, because they thought this book was funny enough to make it spend some time on the NYT best-seller list. I don't know what this says about us as a people.

Here are some samples from the book:

On Showering with Regularity
"Your'e ten years old now, you have to take a shower every day . . . I don't give a shit if you hate it. People hate smelly fuckers. I will not have a smelly fucker for a son."

On Legos
"Listen, I don't want to stifle your creativity, but that thing you built there, it looks like a pile of shit."

On My First School Dance
"Are you wearing perfume?  . . . Son, there ain't any cologne in this house, only your mother's perfume. I know that scent, and let me tell you, it's disturbing to smell your wife on your thirteen-year-old son."

On Finding Out I Didn't Make the Little League All-Star Team
"This is bullshit. All the coaches just put their kids on the team. That shit bag's son isn't worthy of carrying your jock strap. . . . You don't wear a jock strap? What the hell is wrong with you, son?"

On Friendliness
"Listen, I know you hate playing with that chubby kid because his mom's a loudmouth, but it's not that kid's fault his mom's a bitch. Try to be nice to him."

It's stuff like this that keeps me from starting Pickwick Papers.
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