Justin Halpern's anecdotal memoir, Shit My Dad Says, is number one on the New York Times Best Seller list today. Did everyone rush out and buy it for their father for Father's Day?
Before reviewing it, this is a warning. If you're offended by the title, you'll be offended by the book, so don't bother picking it up. The title is a perfect indication of Halpern's father's language. If you aren't offended, let me tell you, this is the funniest book I've read in a long time. This one is laugh out loud funny.
In May 2009, Justin Halpern accepted a job with Maxim.com, knowing he could live anywhere. He planned to move it with his girlfriend in San Diego, but she broke up with him. So, at twenty-nine he moved back in with his parents. His mother still worked as a lawyer, but his father had retired from his position in nuclear medicine. And, since Justin worked from home, his father felt free to interrupt him, and talk to him. Halpern found his seventy-three-year-old father's comments so funny that he started a Twitter account called "Shit My Dad Says." When it grew to a million followers, and publishers and TV producers were calling, Justin thought he should tell his dad what he'd been writing. Even his father's reaction to that is funny.
Justin Halpern's father is brutally honest, and Halpern intersperses his dad's one liners between chapters of the memoir as he tells the story of his life with his dad. I just found his father's philosophy quite honest, if a little raw. Here are a couple quick quotes.
"On My First Day of Kindergarten - "You thought it was hard? If kindergarten is busting your ass, I got some bad news for you about the rest of life."
"On Furnishing One's Home - Pick your furniture like you pick a wife; it should make you feel comfortable and look nice, but not so nice that if someone walks past it they want to steal it."
Halpern's book passed the ultimate test for me. My sister called while I was reading it, and I read her passages from it. We were both laughing hysterically, and her husband is getting the book for Father's Day. If I can sell it over the telephone, it works.
It's hard to imagine living with a father as brutally honest as Halpern's, but he survived to write about his dad. Justin Halpern wanted to be a screenwriter. Now, he's cowriting and coproducing a sitcom adaptation of Shit My Dad Says. It's hard to imagine it will be as funny as the book.
Justin Halpern's Twitter account is www.Twitter.com/ShitMyDadSays, and his website is www.ShitMyDadSays.com
Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. HarperCollins, ©2010. ISBN 9780061992704 (hardcover), 158p.
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