Carpe diem ... but only when you feel like it.
Synopsis of I'll Seize the Day Tomorrow by Jonathan Goldstein: Jonathan Goldstein worries. A lot. A year before his fortieth birthday, and Jonathan isn't where he thinks he should be. With no wife, no kids, no car, and no house--not even a houseboat--what does he have? Through a series of wonderfully funny stories, Jonathan recounts the highs and lows of his last year in his thirties, weighing in on topics such as the mysterious McRib, whether an automatic hand dryer can tell if you have a soul, and the underestimated power of a toy poodle. Filled with Jonathan's trademark wit, "I'll Seize the Day Tomorrow "is the tale of one man's journey to find some great truth on his road to forty . . . or maybe not...
My two centsThe book in one sentence: The humorous blabberings of a man on the cusp of the big 4-0.
So I got this one thinking that I could relate (hint: I'm nearing a round figure myself). But then there are so many dissimilarities that I started out with just a bit of trepidation -- was I ready to listen to a single male yap about his utter hopelessness and aimless life? Would I at least get a good laugh, or would I be forcing myself to find humour in things I couldn't relate to ... like the McRib? (I have never eaten a McRib in my life!)
Ok, ok, I even sounded glum in my Friday 56/Book Beginnings. But as I started reading, I remember Robert Fulghum (author of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten) for some reason -- albeit Goldstein is decades younger and has more hair on his head.
They share amusing, sometimes profound insights into the most mundane or the most important life moments. Amidst the McRibs and after-work drinks and chattering with male friends Goldstein has moments of introspection with a lucidity and profoundness that made me feel I should be paying more attention to "being in the moment."
For example, a recollection of dinners out as a child:
"When dining there, my sister and I usually shared a hamburger, but my dream was to one day have the flaming Pu-Pu platter, a dish of chicken, onion rings, wontons and God-knows-what, all brought to the table ablaze. The diner had to blow it out like a plate full of birthday candles, or a stray Molotov cocktail. To a ten-year-old, a Pu-Pu platter turning dining into an act of heroism."
- page 56, ARC (page may change)
Or welcoming a newborn into the family:
"Tolstoy once wrote that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way and that happy families are all alike. This is not so, as evidence by my father, who is smilingly biting into a home-brought chicken sandwich while seated atop an upturned wastepaper basket, and my mother, who is rubbing disinfectant gel onto her lips, preparing to kiss the newborn.
We all stand around for hours, happily staring at the baby and clutching our chests. How strange to feel yourself falling in love with someone you've only met. And how endlessly fascinating it is to watch someone getting used to being alive. Though perhaps even more fascinating is watching someone get used to being part of our family."
- page 102, ARC (page may change)
Or if you ever wondered what women really think about men's beards:
I phone Marie-Claude.
"Men have beards," I say. "What do women have for their sadness?"
"Much of our sadness is caused by men's beards," she says.
After a brief conversation, I put the phone down and go shave. After all, there already enough sadness in the world.
- page 195, ARC (page may change)
This is a fun read. Not sure how much of this is true but read this tongue-in-cheek; laugh out loud when you're feeling like it; and snicker when it's snide and silly. I found myself many times just snickering to myself -- definitely the best type of humour because it relatable but not trying to be funny.
But if you're in the mood for it, this book is also about introspection and self-examination -- of oneself, the people you interact with on a daily basis, or the simple things that you just do.
One thing that struck me is how lovingly Goldstein talks about his family. I loved his relationship with his parents, particularly his father, who is a equally funny in his own quirky way.
And while Goldstein seems like an utter failure by his obviously high standards (this is supposed to be sarcastic) ... who says you need a wife, kids, a house, and a huge TV? Sometimes it really is about enjoying the ride!
Uh-ohsI hated the Foreword by Gregor Erlich, "agent to the star" who tries waaaaay too hard to be funny and I guess, to set the stage for the book. No offense to Mr. Erlich, but I really didn't want to hear from him nor did I find him particularly funny. Take note that Erlich reappears with an Afterword, which didn't annoy me as much but again, trying too hard to be funny.
VerdictA guy's humorous take on his life as he counts down to the big 4-0. A fun read for any male, or for any female wanting a peek into the ... maturing ... male mind.