I haven't found a whole lot of good humor or "light" books this past summer or fall. As previously noted, I blame the election. (For everything, not just a boring nonfiction publishing cycle.) But one book I did read and enjoy last month was Justin Halpern's short and funny memoir I Suck At Girls.
You may know Halpern better as the author of the Twitter feed (and book, and short-lived TV show, starring William Shatner) Sh*t My Dad Says. I still don't understand Twitter (and never will, it's starting to look like), and I didn't think that book was all that funny. So I wasn't expecting much from this one.*
It's a short memoir in vignettes, of Halpern's completely addled attempts at connecting with girls. He opens the book with describing his first crush, in the second grade, on a little girl named Kerry. How did he express his devotion? He drew a picture of her, and then drew a yellow dog in the air above her, taking a poop on her head, and for his big finish, drew in a thought bubble that showed her with the thought bubble "I like it."**
And things only went downhill from there for Halpern in the girl department. You'll just have to read the book to find out how (although there's some upbeat stories as well).
If you have read and enjoyed Halpern's first book, rest assured there's lots more sh*t his dad says in this one, too. In fact, my favorite parts of the book pretty much all involved his father. Consider this little exchange, when Halpern is describing how, when he was little, he woke up early in the morning after a scary dream, went to the kitchen for a drink, and was frightened by his father, who was also up:
"I shrieked like a frightened monkey and jumped back, crashing into the bookcase behind me. As my eyes adjusted I realized that the shadow was my dad, sitting in total darkness in the La-Z-Boy chair that faced the windows to our backyard.
'Jesus H. Christ. Calm down, son. What the hell is wrong with you?'
'I had a freaky dream,' I said, trying to catch my breath. 'What are you doing?'
'I'm sitting in the dark drinking a hot toddy. What the hell does it look like?'
'Why are you doing that right now? It's the middle of the night.'
'Well, contrary to popular fucking belief, I enjoy a little time to myself, so I wake up early so I can have it. Clearly I'm going to have to start waking up earlier." (p. 33.)
I enjoyed that a lot. And oh yeah, be warned: there's swearing in the book (quite a lot of it, whenever Halpern's dad is around), in case you don't care for that kind of thing.
*Low expectations: always the secret to happiness!
**This vignette was one of the more amusing, with Halpern's parents getting called into school to discuss this incident and his father, a very practical doctor, being more worried about the "basic physics" tenets Halpern was ignoring by drawing the dog floating in midair over Kerry.