Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

September 19, 2010

Summary (from the publisher): “After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:

‘That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.’

‘Do people your age know how to comb their hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their heads and started f*cking.’

‘The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.’

More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.”

Liked:

  • Some of Sam Halpern’s one-liners are truly funny, and had me laughing out loud. Clearly this wasn’t the kind of father who took Justin outside for a game of catch when he was younger or gave him advice on a good natural acne treatment when the kid got zits in high school. This was the school of hard knocks all the way!
  • The book is very short and mostly stays on point, keeping the father and his witticisms as the main focus.

Disliked:

  • There simply wasn’t enough material here to sustain a whole book. Sam Halpern’s sayings are extremely funny on Twitter because the reader is left to fill in the blanks from his or her own imagination. But when the whole scenario is laid out by Justin, the effect isn’t as good.
  • The one-liners got a bit old after a while. Take out the curse words, and half of them aren’t even funny anymore.
  • The book felt like a disconnected series of memories rather than a coherent whole. I realize it would be difficult to make this kind of book feel cohesive, but still… it made for a very uneven read.

Rating:

I wanted to give this book a try because there has been so much hype over the Twitter account and TV series that will be coming out in the fall (starring William Shatner as the father — brilliant choice!). But I was pretty disappointed with what this book actually contained. Yes, there are definitely some funny parts, but it was rather underwhelming on the whole. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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