Halpern, if you don’t recognize the name, is that guy who parlayed a twitter feed about the stuff his dad says into a career/TV deal/etc..
I’m not a fan of the twitter; I tried it and found it a bit too much of a not-so-good thing. But it was sometimes amusing, and I was curious what Halpern’s writing might be like without the crutch of his dad’s persona.
It turns out this is not the book that answers that question. The central conceit is that Halpern is prompted by a life event to re-examine his romantic history, but this re-examination is directly prompted by Dad. Moreover, even when Dad is off-screen, Halpern (who I think is much cannier than his aw-shucks-all-I-did-was-post-some-stuff-my-dad-said schtick implies) usually puts some character front and center who is some combination of older, worldlier and/or inclined to communicate largely in scatological idioms.
But I liked it better than I might have thought, for two reasons.
First, my toe-dip in Halpern’s twitter gave me a very inaccurate impression of the titular dad: he’s not at all the mashup of crusty, intolerant Archie Bunker-for-the-new-millennium with Yogi-Berra-esque accidental quasi-profundity that I thought; he’s actually a smart guy (and not demonstrably intolerant in this book; I don’t know where I got that from) who expresses complex thoughts in language that might embarrass a stand-up comic.
Second, for a guy writing tell-all sexual history, Halpern doesn’t have too much to tell. He doesn’t portray himself as anyone who would ever be called a “player.” He’s more of an anti-player. As a confirmed anti-player myself, I found the non-glorification of belt-notch tallies refreshing and relatable (so relatable, in fact, that pop culture details sometimes struck me as anachronistic, given that Halpern’s and my respective non-wild-oat-sowing decades were not contemporaneous). Don’t get me wrong, it was fluffy and sophomoric, but its rewards were commensurate with the effort required: several chuckles, at least one guffaw, and it took about a day to read.*
* (technically 2, but only because I started late at night)
needs more demons? guess not, but I’m still curious to see what Halpern might produce if he quits leaning on his dad.