Saturday, July 26, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #207: You Can Date Boys When You're Forty by Dave Barry

Dave Barry has been making a living out of being funny in public for more than thirty years -- I think his newspaper column might even date back to the late '70s -- and he's been a bestseller enough times that it's clear the American public thinks he's good at it. (And he is, a lot of the time: in a very broad, middle-American way, but even middle Americans need to laugh now and then.)

He ended that newspaper column -- which gave him most of his best material, and gave him a rhythm and a structure that worked very well for him for two decades -- about ten years ago. (Maybe it was because the newspaper business was imploding, maybe it was because he wanted to spend more time writing novels with Ridley Pearson, maybe he was just tired of writing a regular humor column after twenty-plus years. Maybe all of those things and more.) But he's kept writing humor, if more slowly than before.

I covered his last original humor collection, I'll Mature When I'm Dead, back in 2011. And I warn you that pretty much everything I could say about this book book, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty, is precisely what I said about Mature.

Date Boys is a collection of shorter pieces of various lengths; it's a short book with generous leading that means it's actually shorter than it looks. I thought it was pretty funny, but it's exactly the same kind of humor Barry has been doing since 1980ish: dumb-guy jokes, language jokes, women-are-smarter-than-me jokes, I-have-so-much-trouble-dealing-with-ordinary-things-in-the-world jokes. He's good at making jokes; he has a lot of practice at it and knows how to do it really well.

The topics here: taking his tween daughter to a Justin Bieber concert, Men, Women, Death, getting old, a new "Ask Mr. Language Person" column without using that name, air travel,being a famous author. The longest piece is about a two-week trip to Israel with his family (Jewish wife and thus Jewish daughter), which is slightly less intensive with the ha-ha but still pitched as light entertainment.

This is not a book for the ages, or one for deep contemplation. But it's a pleasant, amusing time-waster, and Barry's language writings are particularly good: he can mangle grammatical advice like no one else.If you've got a plane flight coming up, this would be a fine choice.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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