Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Review: "Everything is Wrong with Me" by Jason Mulgrew

When you look back on your childhood as an adult, things are often much funnier than they were when you were growing up. And if you have the type of childhood that Jason Mulgrew had, a) you have the makings of one hell of a memoir, and b) you're probably lucky you survived.

In his funny and immensely self-deprecating memoir, Everything is Wrong with Me, humorist Jason Mulgrew recounts his childhood growing up in working class Philadelphia in the 1970s and 1980s. From the auspicious beginning of how his parents met (his mother saw his costumed father marching in a Mummers parade while he was bleeding from a stab wound) to his experiences as a non-athletic child playing Little League baseball or being used as a decoy by his numbers-running grandfather, Mulgrew finds humor both in the ordinary situations he lived through as well as the hard-to-believe ones. And from his anecdotes about his adult life, it sounds as if he didn't learn much from his childhood!

There were a number of times I laughed out loud during this book, but at the same time, I felt as if Mulgrew tried a little too hard at times. And while his constant self-deprecation was funny at the start, by the end of the book you wondered whether his self esteem was really that low or if he thought it would make his story more appealing to readers. But those foibles notwithstanding, this book certainly stands alongside David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs in chronicling dysfunctional family life, although this book is a bit cruder (and, much like the pre-teen and teenage boy it follows, a little more sex-obsessed). Good fun.

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