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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee - Sarah Silverman In which, in the Afterword, written by God, God says, "To be honest, I'm not that big a fan of kids. I had just one of my own, and I murdered him. So there's that."

Given that my own tagline is "slayer of sacred cows," this brand of humor is totally my cup-a tea. Hence, the problem with Silverman's memoir isn't the swipes at religion or society's other precious untouchable topics, but rather the infrequency of said humor. For a writer who by her own admission, detailed in this book, has generated a bit of controversy, the book is stunningly inoffensive.

Well, yeah, there's always someone who's ready to go out of their way to get their panties in a knot. You know, the kind of person who'd fly thousands miles, with several connections at big crowded airports, then ride in a rickshaw for another hundred over rugged terrain, just to clutch their pearls and shriek at some bewildered writer who made the mistake of typing the words - "white kittens are stupid" - on the Internet?

But for saner folks, Silverman's writing is milder than catchup. As indicated by the title, a big part of the book is given over to her need for rubber sheets well into her teens, which, does sound like a huge slice of horrible, pee-soaked cake. I mean, can you imagine? Going on a sleep-over or camping trip and knowing that in the morning, you and your bedding will smell like the crazy old man who lurks at the street corner, begging for change?

It's no wonder that Silverman turned to humor for refuge. The only other options being liberal infusions of mind-altering drugs (well, harder stuff that pot, that is), and a sharp knife to the wrist.

Silverman's struggles with squishy, yellow bedding aside, much of the book is devoted to her television show and fellow comedians. And this is where the writing loses momentum. Point of confession: as I write this, I have never seen her show. Perhaps if I were a fan, or an anti-fan, and had a point of reference, I'd find the behind-the-scenes stuff fascinating. Instead, it reads like fan girlish praise for guys (mostly guys, this being comedy) who like to paint funny faces on their penises. Not that I object to the practice in principle. If I had a phallus, I'd probably dress it up like Marilyn Monroe. Or maybe Marilyn Manson. It's just that, I don't know these people and Silverman's descriptions of the madcap hijinks have a kind of "you had to be there" flavor. They're just not that funny.

The politics behind show business part, Silverman's struggles with network censors and budgets, were mildly interesting. I know that work in the arts isn't without the same frustrations as in any other business. It just seems worth it because you're doing what you love. But the bullshit is actually piled higher and deeper than what you'd encounter as an accountant. Yeah, accountants need to stay relevant in their careers. But that mostly entails learning the newest versions of Quickbooks or Peachtree. But artists/actors/performers have to deal with creative angst and...critics, as well as constantly strike to remain relevant in the face of a fickle public. Much harder.

It isn't until the last few chapters, where she addresses her Judaism (or lack, thereof) and other religions, that Silverman starts to mine culture for more insightful, cutting humor. But there just isn't enough of it to propel the overall narrative into something memorable.

Note to anyone reading this on a Kindle (Touch). The story include photos of diary pages and other handwritten material, which on my screen wasn't terribly readable. May not be a problem with other e-readers (or readers who aren't too lazy to fiddle with their device's settings), but those pages were unreadable on my Kindle.