Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern

I’ve been in the mood for a funny book lately, something that won’t make me feel the need to set the book aside to take a breather and tell myself “It’s just a story, it’s not real, things aren’t really that terrible.” (See my Monsters of Men review, which I’ll post a little closer to the publication date, and you’ll know what I mean.) Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern fit the bill perfectly.

Many of you may already be familiar with Halpern’s Twitter feed, ( where he began chronicling the rude, bizarre, and hilarious things his father said. After a mention by Rob Corddry, his Twitter feed saw a meteoric rise in popularity (as of this week, he has over 1.6 million followers). A book deal wasn’t far away, and neither was a tv show, which stars William Shatner as the profane father. (I have a whole other set of opinions about the television show, but I’m reserving judgment until I see it.)

The audience for Shit My Dad Says can really be summed up with one question: Do you like bathroom humor? If your answer is yes (mine is), this book will likely leave you in stitches.

Here’s an example of the elder Halpern’s wit: “Son, you’re complaining to the wrong man. I can shit anywhere, anytime. It’s one of my finer qualities. Some might say my finest.”

And then there’s the sterling dating advice: “That woman was sexy…Out of your league? Son. Let women figure out why they won’t screw you, don’t do it for them.”

As you can see, it’s also for those of us who like a healthy dose of profanity with our humor (the two selections above are a couple of the tamer ones), so be warned. (Can you see why I’m wary about a television show?)

Shit My Dad Says is a short little book made up of brief vignettes featuring Halpern’s interactions with his father, from childhood through adulthood. Each vignette is preceded by a smattering of (usually) 140 characters or fewer witticisms from his dad, most of them centering around defecation and tough love (and often both at once). I’d hazard a guess that most of these one-liners are merely repeats of the Twitter feed, but there are a few new ones thrown in, and the old ones are so funny they’re worth reading again.

While humor is definitely the book’s main aim, Halpern also aims for sentimental and touching, and he mostly succeeds. His writing makes it clear that the two men love each other, and this is spelled out in the last chapter, a pretty affecting few pages where Halpern’s dad tells his son what he hopes we readers take away from the book.

Some of the vignettes are forgettable (I’m having trouble remembering details of more than a few), but on the whole, Shit My Dad Says succeeds in its purpose: to make us laugh and to remind us that a parent’s love can be shown in some unconventional ways, but it’s love nonetheless. This last point is something many people can relate to.

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