Book review: ‘Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me’
Vail, CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” It’s true, being funny does not mean that you are shielded from the sadness of heartbreak in this world. It does, however, mean that you are more likely to look at the humorous side of things and then, God willing, be asked to write a short story for a compilation of short stories, which is then published and gives readers many, many laughs at your misfortune. And thanks to Ben Karlin, these personal un-triumphs of human dignity are now fodder for the general public’s delight at how real (and pseudo) celebrities have to deal with the same crap we do when it comes to love.
Karlin, the former executive producer of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report has a mother who thinks he’s a mighty fine catch and a plethora of friends who have managed to compile some of the funniest losing-love stories ever written. Calling on some of the funniest names in comedy today, Karlin has succeeded in humanizing some of the people who make us laugh.
Of the 31 short stories in this collection, there are so many stand outs that it would be as unfair to choose favorites as it would be to turn a grudge into a work of art (as Andy Selsberg does in “A Grudge Can Be Art”). It would be just as ridiculous to say that only a few of these writers have lived through some pretty ridiculous situations, as ridiculous as someone actually ejaculating on their cat (as Neil Pollack relates he did in “Don’t Come On Your Cat”). The fact of the matter is, some of the stories are far more entertaining than others, and yup, they tend to be the ones where something really ridiculous happened.
Heartbreak is painful, and these gentlemen relate all different types of pain in their very different types of stories. Patton Oswalt shares the painfully believable differences between his wife and his stripper ex-girlfriend in “Dating a Stripper Is a Recipe for Perspective.”
David Wain brings to the table the painfully awkward and realistic story of trying to understand women who are potentially un-understandable in the quite clever “Persistence is for Suckers.” And renowned newspaper columnist Dan Savage adds a painfully confused story about trying to fit in with “I Am a Gay Man.”
Sure, not every story is comic genius. Larry Wilmore’s creeper about his daughter, “Women Are Never Too Young to Mess with Your Head,” is painfully awkward. Rodney Rothman writes a lame story, “I Still Like Jessica,” which proves little more than being a “grown man” has little to do with being grown up.
All humor aside though, love can lead to devastating events. Even though a good majority of the writers here are poking fun at their own experiences, they are doing it in such a heartfelt way that it’s hard not to be able to empathize with them. Damian Kulash, Jr., lead singer of OK Go, wins the most-reminiscent-of-real-life award with “A Dog Is No Reason to Stay Together,” and Bob Kerrey is champion of the beautiful in “Sometimes You Find a Lost Love, Sometimes You Don’t.”
Whether you have had 50 ex’s, or married your first love, some part of this will relate to feelings you have felt, they just happen to be a whole lot more humorous when they happened to someone else.
Andrew Fersch writes weekly book reviews for the Vail Daily. E-mail comments about this review to firstname.lastname@example.org. This book is available for purchase at the Bookworm in Edwards.
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