Catch-Up Quick Takes: Best. State. Ever.; Live Right and Find Happiness; You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty (Audiobooks) by Dave Barry, Dick Hill

I’ve mentioned before here that I think that Dave Barry is just about the funniest writer around—I used to gobble up his stuff in the newspaper and bookstore as quickly as it came out. I’m not sure what changed, but there are a handful of books by him that I haven’t gotten to yet. Thankfully, my Library had a few of them available to listen to last month. Here are a few thoughts about each of them. Quick reminder: the point of these quick takes post to catch up on my “To Write About” stack—emphasizing pithiness, not thoroughness.

Best. State. EverBest. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland

by Dave Barry, Dick Hill (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 4 hrs., and 47 mins.
Recorded Books, 2016
Read: November 21-22, 2019

(the official blurb)
The best parts of this one for me were the introduction (explaining some of the phenomena behind the widespread mockery of Florida) and the chapter giving a history of the state. I chuckled a lot at both of those.

When he moved onto looking at various tourist attractions and or locations in the state, it lost a little bit for me. There was something in each chapter to make me grinmaybe even laugh. But not as much as I’m used to from Barry. The Key West chapter came close, but even that stumbled. I do think if I’d ever been in the state to get a feel for some of these places it might have been better.

The biggest revelation for me from this is just how funny Dick Hill can be. No offense intended, but the voice of Jack Reacher and other thrillers is just not what you think of when it comes to silliness. But man, he was really, really good at this.
3 Stars


Live Right and Find HappinessLive Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry

by Dave Barry
Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., and 39 mins.
Recorded Books, 2015
Read: November 26, 2019

(the official blurb)
This is more like it: pieces of wisdom (and other things) Barry’s passing on to his daughter and grandson. The driving tips for his daughter were fantastic (not just because my daughter is in the process of getting her license right now). The letter to his infant grandson was funny and touching.

Barry also looks at his parents’ generation (the Mad Men generation) and their ability to party, Google Glass, and a trip to Brazil for the World Cup (not being a sports guy, I didn’t think that last one would do much for me, but it was really funny). Oh, yeah, then he talks in-depth about a trip that he and Ridley Pearson took to Russia to talk about writing.

As much as I liked Dick Hill, Barry’s a better narrator of his own stuff.
3.5 Stars


You Can Date Boys When You're FortyYou Can Date Boys When You’re Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

by Dave Barry
Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., and 22 mins.
Penguin Audio, 2014
Read: November 8, 2019

(the official blurb)
This one ticked all the right boxes for methe stuff about his daughter dating was the kind of thing that fathers everywhere can relate to and second; taking his daughter to a Bieber concert was even better. It was probably not a good idea for me to listen to his chapter about Fifty Shades of Grey at work, thankfully no one asked me why I was laughing (I did not want to have to explain that). Oh, and his funeral instructions were priceless.

Something I wasn’t prepared for was a long piece about a trip his family took to Israel. Listening to Barry juggle travel humor (searching for A/C and Wi-Fi in the midst of historic/cultural wonders), sensitive political discussions, and even getting close to the spiritual was fantastic. It’s not the kind of writing that you often see from Barry, and it’s easy to forget he can be really effective doing things that aren’t just verbal slapstick.

This is probably one of my favorite collections from someone I’ve been reading for decades. This is just great.
4 Stars

2019 Library Love ChallengeHumor Reading Challenge 2019

Fletch, Too (Audiobook) by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller: Fletch’s Ski Trip to Nairobi

Fletch, Too

Fletch, Too

Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller (Narrator)
Series: Fletch, #9 (#2 Chronologically)

Unabridged Audiobook, 5 hrs., and 43 mins.
Blackstone Audio, 2019

Read: August 21-22, 2019


Up to this point, we know practically nothing about Fletch’s personal life—he’s been married (and divorced) twice and engaged once or twice in addition to that. He’s carried on an on-again/off-again relationship with Moxie Mooney. Served with valor in the Army, made a couple of good friends there. That’s pretty much it—most of what we know about Fletch is about his professional life—and then the amateur sleuthing/investigative journalism he’s done since he didn’t kill Alan Stanwyck. We know next to nothing about his family, his childhood, and so on.

In Fletch, Too McDonald decides to fix that. Picking up right after Fletch Won (like a day or two after) with his first wedding, the revelations start right away. We meet Fletch’s mother, a mystery novelist of some renown (but perhaps not of the highest caliber). After the ceremony, he’s handed a letter from someone claiming to be his father. Fletch had been told that his father had “died in childbirth,” so he’s taken aback by this. The letter describes (briefly) why his father had not been around for his life and that he’s “mildly curious” about his son. If Fletch is at least “mildly curious” about his father, he’s invited to visit him in Nairobi for their honeymoon, tickets are enclosed.

More than mildly curious, and driven to get some answers (or at least a good story), the two hop that plane (bringing their luggage and skis packed for a trip to Colorado). At this point, it stops being a standard Fletch novel and becomes something more akin to Carioca, Fletch. Before they leave the airport, Fletch witnesses a murder (unbeknownst to the murderer).

Fletch makes a couple of attempts to investigate the murder, but due to circumstances, a language barrier, police not given to outsiders’ help, and the lack of anything to go off of, he doesn’t get far. In fact, minor spoiler, the only reason Fletch “solves” the murder is that he recognizes the killer toward the end of the book. Which makes for a fairly unsatisfying “mystery” novel.

Where this book gets interesting is as Fletch and his wife meet some locals, explore the city, and meet a colleague of his father’s. We’re treated to a look at the culture, legal system (or lack thereof), history and some speculative Archeology about the area. It’s interesting—but it feels more like McDonald had an interesting vacation, read some good books on the region and/or had some great conversations with people from Nairobi and wanted to share what he’d learned (again, see, Carioca, Fletch).

I think I appreciated this more than the other non-standard Fletch because 1. I came in with low expectations (remembering how little I liked it) and 2. the supporting characters are more interesting.

At this point, I assume (and am supported by experience) that Miller will do a capable job with the Narration and he helped me enjoy the experience.

This is one for completists, for those who are curious about Fletch’s backstory, or for those who have a hankering for learning about Kenya. It’s not a bad book, it’s just not as good as it should be.


3 Stars
2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

An Accidental Death (Audiobook) by Peter Grainger, Gildart Jackson: A Bit of Routine Paperwork with Anything but Routine Results

An Accidental Death

An Accidental Death

by Peter Grainger, Gildart Jackson (Narrator)
Series: A DC Smith Investigation, #1

Unabridged Audiobook, 6 hrs., 52 min.
Tantor Audio, 2016

Read: November 18-19, 2019

‘When you’re in front of a promotion board, one of the favourite questions is ‘So what motivates you in your daily work, Chris?’

‘Promotion? I’ll be relieved if I get through my six months. So what’s the correct answer?’

‘Oh, there are lots, you can buy them in books. But you could think about this,’ and Smith nodded towards the little group still standing at the graveside. ‘I’m just not sure how you put it into words.’

‘Revenge? Justice?’

‘For the victim – for Wayne Fletcher? Not how I see it, he’s beyond all that. Death’s the end of all. But look at the misery we’ve seen today. And it’s endless, it goes on rippling back and forwards through all these lives forever. I don’t know about justice. I’ve never seen myself on a white charger, righting wrongs – but we have to catch people so that they can’t create all this again. And so that other people get the message – you will be caught, you will pay. We never know how many selfish acts we prevent when we show people the consequences, but we have to keep showing them the consequences. These are the consequences.’

Smith had raised a hand, palm open towards the new grave.

Here we meet Detective Sergeant D. C. Smith—which isn’t At. All. confusing when listening to an audiobook, “I thought he was a DS, why is everyone calling him DC?” (thankfully, Grainger explains it after a bit). He’s a still-grieving widower, a long-serving detective, who has some sort of Intelligence experience in his past, has been of a higher rank, and has broken at least one near-legendary case years before. You wouldn’t think this résumé would be a type, but I’ve read about three Detective Sergeants this year that fit that description. That’s not a criticism, it’s just odd. DC Smith is my favorite exemplar of this type.

DC Smith is fresh off a brief leave in the aftermath of some case that was clearly divisive in the detective squad—and we never learn the details about it (which is frustrating, yet oddly compelling, and I almost hope we never learn the details about it), and is assigned to a new DI. Alison Reeve used to be a protégé of Smith’s, making things a bit awkward, but she also trusts him a lot more than other superiors seem to. He doesn’t have a team at the moment but gets to train a fresh DC, Chris Waters. Waters is an excellent device to get readers to see how Smith thinks/acts, because he has to keep explaining to Waters why he’s doing what he does.

For his first few days back, Reeve hands Smith some busy work including an anti-drugs presentation at some schools (quick aside—I loved his presentation, reminiscent of Bill Hick’s bit about the “this is your brain on drugs”) and a final sign-off on the paperwork about an accidental death. There’s a note on the autopsy that niggles at Smith and he starts looking into the accident. The initial investigation and paperwork were done just right, but . . .

Smith remembers a former colleague saying:

If you’re going to start turning over stones, you’ve got to turn them all over, every bloody one, even the littlest pebble…

Nevertheless, Smith starts turning over stones. And then more stones and more. Before he knows it, Smith and Waters find themselves mixed up in something nobody could’ve predicted—international intrigue, military secrets, family secrets, political pressure, and so on.

All leading to a great conclusion/face-off that will show off new sides of Smith (and show a Waters’ mettle), with a postscript that seems predictable (but I’m not sure it was supposed to be)—but ties off the novel so nicely that I don’t care.

I’ve listened to one other book narrated by Gildart Jackson (Fated by Benedict Jacka), and while I thought he did fine with that one, he really seemed to connect with the character and the way he handled the narration and character voice seemed to fit the words/tone perfectly. I almost think I couldn’t read a future book in this series in print, I might have to come back for more.

There’s something about this one that got under my skin more than a typical procedural does—it’s maybe DC Smith, it’s maybe Grainger’s style (there’s a lot of subtle humor in a dark text)—it’s a Gestalt thing, I think. I really dug it.

Early on, Smith tells a couple of Fletcher’s friends:

‘As much as we might like this just to be about the facts, it never is. It never can be because people are always more complicated than facts.

Not only is that a catchy little bon mot, having a character who bases his work on it is about as good as “Everyone Counts or Nobody Counts” for his readers. An Accidental Death is a compelling read exploring an event that is more complicated than just facts and that’ll leave you wanting to come back for more.

This is checking off the “A book recommended by someone you trust.” box from the While I Was Reading Challenge, so I should probably mention that my friend, Micah, has been telling me to read these books (he additionally recommended the audiobooks, which is why I went audio with this one) since December 2017 (according to Goodreads). I really should’ve listened to him long before this. Not only does he have great taste, he’s a great photographer, take a moment to stop by his spiffy website and see.


4 Stars

✔ A book recommended by someone you trust.

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

A Two-Fer: Back of Beyond and The Highway (Audiobooks) by CJ Box, Holter Graham: Thrills and Chills along the Highways & Byways (and wilderness) of Wyoming

Trying something new here—one post about two books. Basically, I got so hooked by the first in this series that I listened to the second before I could write about it. Now I can’t think of them separately, so…

Back of Beyond

Back of Beyond

by C. J. Box, Holter Graham (Narrator)
Series: The Highway Quartet, #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hrs., and 3 mins.
Macmillan Audio, 2011
Read: October 16-17, 2019
3.5 Stars

The Highway

The Highway

by C. J. Box, Holter Graham (Narrator)
Series: The Highway Quartet, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., and 49 mins
Macmillan Audio, 2013
Read: October 24-25, 2019
3 Stars


Cody Hoyt is your typical brilliant, but troubled, maverick cop. But he’s gone a little further than most—his alcoholism has cost him a job, his marriage, and son. He’s managed to find a job as a Sheriff’s Investigator in Montana, and has two months of sobriety. He’s called out to the scene of an apparently accidental fire that resulted in a death.

Sadly, the body is Cody’s AA Sponsor. Cody refuses to believe that he got drunk and accidentally caused a fire. With a fellow investigator, he starts putting the pieces together while trying to prevent the Coroner and Sheriff from rushing to declare it an accidental death.

Meanwhile, we meet Gracie Sullivan, a bookish fourteen-year-old and her older, appearance-obsessed sister Danielle. In an attempt to bond with his daughters during the short time he has custody, he drags them along on a Yellowstone wilderness trip.

This seems like an odd combination of storylines to combine—but Box does it. While unclear about why Hank was killed, the investigators decide the killer is on a Yellowstone Wilderness Trip (yup, that’s the one!). To add to the tension, Cody’s son is also on that trip—he’s with the man his mother is planning to marry, also in an attempt to bond. The idea of his son stuck with a killer is too much for Cody. So he sets off to find the tour while his colleague continues to investigate.

I’m not sure why so many adults want to bond with teens for a week in Yellowstone on the back of a horse, but maybe it’s something I should try. Then again, given the body count on this trip…

Bouncing back and forth between Gracie and Cody (and, occasionally, other points of view), we get to see what’s going on with the tour while we feel the tension from Cody’s hunt. No one on the tour is aware there’s any kind of problem, but things start going wrong and people start disappearing. The tour group is an interesting, and pretty believable mix of characters, and when things go wrong for them, it matters. I absolutely loved the contrast between the experienced, yet worried, Cody and the increasingly aware and innocent Gracie (I would’ve been more impressed with this if I hadn’t moved on to Box’s Open Season next where he’d done something very similar years before this).

Despite his many flaws—or probably because of the way that Box combined them and used them—I really liked Cody and was rooting for him. But Gracie? Gracie was fantastic. She’s smart, insightful, clever and determined—and she keeps her head in a dangerous situation.

There’s a lot of good twists (and even the one that you see coming from miles away, you only see part of it—and the motive will catch you off guard). All coming together in a good, solid, satisfying ending.

Then a few years later, in The Highway, we meet Cody again. In the meantime, things have gone really well for him, we can tell. And then things fall apart as we join him—he falls off the wagon, jeopardizing career and family.

Danielle is driving her sister Gracie from their home in Colorado to their father’s for Thanksgiving. Danielle makes a spur-of-the-moment choice to detour to see Cody’s son, Justin. Ever the horrible-teenage-driver, she’s texting him continually through their trip.

Suddenly, the texts stop and hours click by with no contact. Justin enlists his drunken father and a new investigator he’s training to search for them. Cassie Dewall is a driven, single mother, widowed when her husband was killed in Afghanistan. She’s younger and has a lot to learn (and to prove), but has the making of a good detective.

The girls have been kidnapped by, well, it’s in the official blurb so I can say this—a serial killer. Who does a lot more than kill his exclusively female victims. I think that says enough.

The perspectives jump between Cody, Cassie, Gracie and the killer keeping the tension high throughout the hunt. I almost stopped at several points, however. The looming threat to Danielle and Gracie was a lot to take, and hearing about what the other victims had gone through and endured was horrible. It was just a little too real and not at all entertaining for me.

I stuck with it, though. I wanted to see just how the hunt resolved and assumed (rightly or wrongly) that some sort of justice would be meted out. Also, I had to know what would happen to the girls. In the end, I’m glad I did, but it almost wasn’t worth it. A little more evil and it wouldn’t have been.

That said. I’ll be back for number three. Soon.

2019 Library Love Challenge2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

Catch-Up Quick Takes on Audiobooks of This is Where I Leave You, When You Reach Me, How Not to Die Alone, The Right Stuff

Trying to clear the decks here with these quick takes on Audiobooks, like I indicated I would be doing yesterday (which also helps from the deep dive I took on Hands Up yesterday, too).

This is Where I Leave YouThis is Where I Leave You

by Jonathan Tropper, Ramón de Ocampo (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 17 mins
Recorded Books, 2009
Read: October 9-10, 2019

(the official blurb)
This is not my favorite Tropper novel—but it’s a really good one, and I get why this is his most successful and the only one that’s actually been adapted as a movie (or anything).

From the hilarious (and painful in many senses) opening to the heights of hope, the lows of sorrow, the uncomfortable nature of sitting shiva with estranged family, oh, and the obligatory Tropper awkward fight scene, this is a heartfelt, funny, and entertaining read (or, listen, in this case)

de Ocampo does a better job than I’d anticipated anyone doing with this—he captures Judd’s anger, heartbreak, grief and everything else. He also gets the other characters—including some of the more difficult ones (Phillip, Tracy, Alice). I was really impressed with him, and am a little tempted to get a Wimpy Kid audiobook just to see how he does with that.
4 1/2 Stars


When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead, Cynthia Holloway (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 4 hrs., 19 mins.
Listening Library, 2019
Read: October 29, 2019

(the official blurb)
I didn’t realize this was an MG novel when I grabbed it—I thought it was YA—it wouldn’t have made much of a difference, it just would’ve been good to know what I was getting into.

Miranda is in 6th Grade, has one friend (who has just decided not to be friends anymore), and is obsessed with A Wrinkle in Time. Her mom is a paralegal and is dating a lawyer in her firm. It’s the late 70’s and latch-key kids are becoming more common, but not as much as they will be.

As Miranda tries to find new people to connect with, she receives odd messages about needing to write a thorough and completely true account of something that’s about to happen. She’ll know the thing when it happens. Totally normal, right?

There’s some time travel, there’s some personal growth, there’s some tribute to L’Engle’s novel. It’s a charming little work, really. Sure, I could see most of it coming from miles away, but that’s because I’m a few decades older than the audience, not because Stead didn’t know what she was doing.

Holloway does a fine job, too. Capturing the bouncing emotions just right. I dug it, upper MG readers probably will, too (L’Engle fans are shoo-ins).
3.5 Stars


How Not to Die AloneHow Not to Die Alone

by Richard Roper, Simon Vance (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., 52 mins.
Penguin Audio, 2019
Read: October 14-16, 2019

(the official blurb)
The concept for this novel feels like something that’d happen to George Costanza, but what makes this novel work is that Roper makes Andrew a believable, sympathetic human being—not the dumpster fire of a person that George was. It’s utterly preposterous, really. But you can’t help but believe it happening (and can likely see yourself doing something similar).

I’ve seen repeated—almost ubiquitous—comparisons to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. And I get that, and can kind of agree with it. I found the character and story in this novel better than Ms. Oliphant or her life. Although that book seems much more plausible. (and I quickly decided not to care).

Andrew’s friendship with Peggy is wonderful, I wish we had more time with them working/hanging out. Peggy’s a great character on her own—and if Roper were to write one of those ridiculous “same story just from someone else’s POV” sequels, I’d have to cast aside my prejudice against those so I could spend more time with her.

Vance gives one of those audiobook narrations that convinces you there’s no other way for the book to sound—if you read the text version, the voice in your head would have to be Vance. And if you’d never heard of him before, that’s okay, because your subconscious would invent a voice just like his.

Moving, amusing, hopeful. Great job.
4 Stars


The Right StuffThe Right Stuff

by Tom Wolfe, Dennis Quaid (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 15 hrs., 42 mins.
Audible Studios, 2018
Read: October 29-30, 2019

(the official blurb)
I read this book about 2-3 times a year from Middle School to the first or second year of college, and haven’t been able to do it since (I’ve tried off and on). But when Audible had a sale on this earlier in the year, I had to give it a shot. Especially with one of the stars of the remarkable movie adaptation doing the narration.

Now an audiobook of Wolfe is a tricky proposition (at best). Wolfe’s a master stylist. But so much of it (to me anyway) is how the words are on the page. His idiosyncratic capitalization, punctuation, visual rhythms . . . it’s all about how the text shows up in the book. But Quaid gets close enough. So I was able to fully enjoy and immerse myself in this story about the early years of the US/USSR Space Race—the test pilots around Yeager’s feat and then transitioning into the Mercury Program and a little beyond.

Wolfe educates and then entertains with the way he tells the story, editorializes about the events and people, and captures the essence of the various people involved. Listening to this brought me back to the first time I read this book and reminded me why I fell in love with Wolfe.

Quaid did the near-impossible here, he got as close to humanly possible to capturing Wolfe’s style, sensibilities and je ne sais quoi. He didn’t quite get it, but I can’t imagine anyone doing better. It’s probably one of my favorite audiobook performances to date. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Quaid guy just might have a future in show biz.
4 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

Catch-Up Quick Takes: My Plain Jane; The Rest of Us Just Live Here; The Ables

Here’s another batch of overdue takes on some good audiobooks. I don’t have the time for full-posts, so read the official blurbs if you need more information. Last time I tried one of these, I didn’t do such a good job on the “Quick” part, so I’m being more strict with myself this go-around. To that end: the narrators of these do a very capable job with their texts, but I don’t have a lot to say about their performance (I’d be happy to listen to other books by them, I should add).

My Plain JaneMy Plain Jane

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows,
Fiona Hardingham (Narrator)
Series: The Lady Janies, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 7 min.
HarperAudio, 2018
Read: September 24-28, 2019
(the official blurb)
I was really looking forward to this sequel to My Lady Jane, especially because it would involve a supernatural Jane Eyre retelling with a strong comedic sensibility. It wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, but it was still a lot of fun.

The best part of it was having Charlotte Brontë as a character in the story—as Jane’s best (living) friend. I enjoyed Charlotte’s character enough that I’d willingly read a sequel about her.

And yes, I said, “living” there—Helen, the poor girl from Lowood Institution whose death was so hard for Jane is still around in ghost form. The death was still hard on Jane, but having Helen around as a ghost ended up becoming a different kind of obstacle for her to overcome.

I’d have expected a better link between the Janes—at least a stronger link in the supernatural aspects of the stories—than what we got.

Still, it was a fun listen and I’m definitely coming back for the next installment about Calamity Jane.
3 Stars

The Rest of Us Just Live HereThe Rest of Us Just Live Here

by Patrick Ness, James Fouhey (Narrator)
Unabridged Audiobook, 6 hrs., 23 mins
Read: October 7, 2019
(the official blurb)
I loved the idea of exploring the lives of the “regular kids” in a high school characterized by heroes, legends, slayers, etc. Basically, the kids at Sunnyvale High who know that Buffy is saving their skin on a semi-regular basis who aren’t Xander, Willow, Cordelia, etc. While Buffy is fighting vampires and the rest, these kids have family drama, fall in love, get rejected, worry about the future (assuming they don’t get eaten by the Monster of the Week) and all the rest. She may be the hero in general, but they’re the heroes of their own lives.

So Patrick Ness tells the story of one group of these students on the verge of graduation (while the world is being saved from a threat too complicated to talk about).

Great, great concept. The execution was . . . okay. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t leave me dancing in the aisle or anything. This is only my second Ness, but it didn’t feel like this was really his wheelhouse—maybe I’m wrong, maybe A Monster Calls is that thing that’s out of the norm for him.
3 Stars

The AbelsThe Abels

by Jeremy Scott, Eric Michael Summerer (Narrator)
Series: The Ables, #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 14 hrs., 5 mins
Tantor Audio, 2019
Read: October 18-21, 2019
(the official blurb)
The concept behind this was fantastic—seriously. An upper-MG/younger-YA novel about a Special Education class in a Super Hero High School? Genius. You’ve got the kid with telekinesis who was born blind, the teleporter who lost his vision in an accident, a wheelchair-bound telepath (okay, that’s been done before), a kid with Down Syndrome who has the genetic markers for superpowers, but no one’s sure what they are, and so on. These students come together and learn how to work together and become the heroes they dream of being.

This was a blast—think early-Percy Jackson kind of quality. Some solid emotional moments, real character growth, great action. There was one gut-punch of a surprise that I still can’t believe that Scott had the nerve to make—and two big reveals that sealed the deal for me (one that I saw coming for miles, but he executed well enough that I don’t care; and one that I should’ve seen coming, but didn’t).

This one will be enjoyed by readers of all ages, I expect. Recommended.

3.5 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband (Audiobook) by Clint Edwards, Joe Hempel: Would-be Humorous Essays on Marriage, Parenting, and Family

I'm Sorry...Love, Your Husband

I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband: Honest, Hilarious Stories From a Father of Three Who Made All the Mistakes (and Made up for Them)

by Clint Edwards, Joe Hempel (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 4 hrs., 42 mins.
Tantor Audio, 2018

Read: September 23, 2019

The “Short Synopsis” for the book is:

In this inspiring and unconventional book of essays, Clint Edwards sheds light on the darker yet hilarious side of domestic life.

Which sounds pretty good, and is what led to my checking this book out. In the same vein, my “Short Response” is: nope.

The “Full Synopsis” is:

Marriage and Kids are No Joke

He may not win Father of the Year, but Clint Edwards has won the hearts of thousands—including the New York Times, Scary Mommy, and Good Morning America—thanks to his candor and irreverence when it comes to raising kids, being married, and learning from his mistakes.

Clint has three children: Tristan (the know it all), Norah (the snarky princess), and Aspen (the worst roommate ever). He describes parenting as “a million different gears turning in a million different directions, all of them covered in sour milk.” In this inspiring and unconventional book of essays, he sheds light on the darker yet hilarious side of domestic life.

Owning up to all his mishaps and dumbassery, Edwards shares essays on just about every topic fellow spouses and parents can appreciate, including: stupid things he’s said to his pregnant wife, the trauma of taking a toddler shopping, revelations on buying a minivan, and the struggle to not fight the nosy neighbor (who is five years old).

Clint’s funny, heartwarming account of the terrifying yet completely rewarding life of a parent is a breath of fresh air. Each essay in I’m Sorry . . . Love, Your Husband will have you thinking finally, someone gets it.

Which brings me to a “Fuller Response” (I’ll keep my “Full Response” up my sleeve). Those of you who are too young to remember the 1991–1999 Prime Time hit, Home Improvement, may not appreciate this, but I kept thinking of it as I listened to this book. In almost every episode, Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor does something that exasperates and/or disappoints his wife, messes things up with his kids or coworkers in the first act (generally it’s family, but occasionally it’s friends/colleagues). Things get worse during Act Two, leading Tim to get some advice from his wise neighbor, Wilson, and then implement this advice to patch things up with whoever he’s in trouble with and become a better father/husband/friend/colleague. Along the way, America laughed at Tim’s foibles and follies—and at some good comedic moments that had nothing to do with the main plot—and then had their hearts warmed by the ending. That equation worked well for 203 episodes (eh, probably 170 or so, really).

Every essay in this collection reminded me of that outline—except for the comedy. There’s no fictional Tool Time TV show to entertain, there are no actual laughs (maybe 3 bits that made me grin in the 4.75 hours), just frequently preachy lessons about how to become a better man/husband/father (most of which are repeated at least 3 times in the book, almost word-for-word).

The descriptions of his three kids that show up in the synopsis are repeated throughout the book, which is good—because otherwise, I wouldn’t have known this about them. He doesn’t show this at all in his essays.

Hempel does a fine job with this. My problems with this aren’t about him, it’s the content. I can’t say his narration is great, but it might have been. Everything’s colored by the content.

The amount of mild and casual profanity from someone who mentions church as often as he does was a little incongruous. Maybe today’s Mormons are just different from the ones I grew up surrounded by. This isn’t what led to my low rating, it’s just something that chafed a little while I listened to this (and really, it’s the only thing that stuck out to me about the book as a whole). My objection along these lines is that the phrase, “it was a d*$# move” gets tired as a constant evaluation/summary of his actions. If that’s all he can say, maybe he should focus a bit more on the writing and a little less on the self-improvement.

In the end, it wasn’t the triteness, it wasn’t the preachiness, it wasn’t the redundancy of these essays that turned me off (although none of that helped). It was that there was nothing in the essays to make me interested. It was just dull. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t get inspired, I wasn’t entertained. It just was. The only thing that got me through the book was a lack of options that day and a need for something to listen to at work. I’m sure Edwards is a nice guy and a swell father, but he’s just not funny or insightful. Or if he is, he’s left it outside this book.


2 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

Humor Reading Challenge 2019