REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN
Why am I reviewing Dave Barry’s latest humor book “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About” (Putnam, 240 pages, $26.95) on the day when Germany defeated (that’s the understatement of the year) host country Brazil 7-1 in the FIFA World Cup? Especially since the book was published on March 4. It’s like this — and I’m not making this up — the folks at G.P. Putnam’s Sons didn’t send me a book to review. I had to check the book out at the local public library. I visited the library today with three grocery bags of books I’ve reviewed; I love to help out libraries in their hours of need — all 24/7 of them!
Actually, Barry knows as much as most men do about parenting: He has a son, Rob, in his 30s, from an earlier marriage and a teen-age daughter, Sophie, 13, from his current marriage to sportswriter Michelle Kaufman. Rob needs no understanding: Barry knows that as a guy he’s much like his dad. On the other hand, Sophie is almost a woman, creatures that Barry — along with the rest of us of the male persuasion — can never understand.
We males can’t understand why women made a monster bestseller out of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a porno book by a middle-aged British woman about a clueless American girl in love with the kind of man Barry hopes will never darken his South Florida doorway.
As I do with all Dave Barry books, I laughed so much the Brazilians must have thought I was laughing at their ridiculous performance on the pitch in Belo Horizonte.
No, dear Brazilians, and I include you, dear Evelyn De Wolfe, one of my former colleagues at the Los Angeles Times. You’re all fantastic and you live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. You make some of the best autoloading pistols on the planet, including my little .380 Taurus TCP. Just remember: Belo Horizonte means “beautiful horizon” and it’s always darkest before the dawn. Yeah, that’s easy for me to say, a clueless American male who doesn’t understand what the fuss with soccer — the “Beautiful Game” — is all about. Don’t get any ideas, Brazilians, about those wonderful Tauruses. It’s only a game!
Dave Barry, born July 3, 1947, is now 67, well past the age when we oldsters look forward to the mail. Yesterday I got a mailing from a hearing aid firm. At 75, I can expect to be getting mail from funeral homes, Medicare supplement insurance plans and at least two hearing aid providers a week until I really go deaf.
Barry doesn’t write a daily column anymore — more’s the pity — for the Miami Herald, where his wife, Michelle, is currently a sportswriter — and I’m REALLY not making this up — specializing among other things in soccer! Here’s a link to her story on the Germany-Brazil game: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/08/4225183_germany-stuns-host-brazil-7-1.html.
Barry tackles everything from family trips, bat mitzvah parties and dating (he’s serious about that title: “When my daughter can legally commence dating—February 24, 2040—I intend to monitor her closely, even if I am deceased”) to funeral instructions (“I would like my eulogy to be given by William Shatner”), the differences between male and female friendships, and — the ultimate sacrifice for a maie parent accompanying Sophie to a Justin Bieber concert (“It turns out that the noise teenaged girls make to express happiness is the same noise they would make if their feet were being gnawed off by badgers”).
I’m guessing that Barry was an English major at Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia. If he’s not, the section in the book on mastering English grammar, is worth the price of the book all by itself. English grammar is boring? “No,” he writes, “English grammar is not ‘hard and boring’…all you have to do is learn a few simple, logical rules. Once you’ve mastered those, all you have to do is master nineteen trillion totally illogical exceptions to the rules because otherwise you will sound like an idiot.” Makes sense to this English major!
So pick up a copy of Barry’s latest tome and laugh your ass off: it probably could use it!
About the author
The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry “the funniest man in America.” But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn’t much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. “Dave Barry Slept Here” was his version of American history. “Dave Barry Does Japan” was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. “Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys” is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up.
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For a hilarious interview — is there any other kind? — with Dave Barry on creditcards.com: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/dave-barry-qa-date-when-youre-forty-1278.php
In this interview — and in the book — you’ll learn that Barry loves anagrams, including this one for Leonardo DiCaprio: “a ripe raccoon dildo.”