Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Book cover

From Jesus Christ to “Some First-Date Red Flags To Watch Out For” to his status as “a longtime fan of the Papa Johns brand and its garlic sauce product,” Zimmerman ranges widely in these (mostly) comedic essays. Throughout, the author’s dry wit comes across as appealingly ridiculous. Some essays are introspective, exploring his upbringing in the Bible Belt, his relationship with his God-fearing mother, and his identity as “a queer, vegetarian, atheist socialist.” Others are short and quippy—eg, “Seven New Sins—and Tortures Too,” a bullet-point list of some of the annoying parts of existence, including “engaging in bad-faith discourse about topics that do not materially impact your reality” or “using the word nonzero.” Most of the book is well written, but there are some abrasive or abrupt cuts from the longer personal stories to the quick, chuckle-inducing lists. In many of the pieces, Zimmerman pinpoints the emotion of growing up and away from your family’s ideals while still holding love for its members. Chronicling a recent experience at Thanksgiving, he writes, “instead of yelling about atheism, Christianity, Trump, abortion, homosexuality, kids in cages, racism, capitalism, and socialism, we passed the mac ‘n’ cheese and potatoes.” The author also tackles such noncomedic topics as freezing Chicago winters, conversations with Satan, 30th birthdays, and questions for God: “Right now, are more people smoking a cigarette, drinking whiskey, or struggling with their relationship with their father?” Zimmerman’s essays function like breaks in a stand-up routine, and most of his material translates well to the page. The narrative flow is rapid as the author delivers refreshingly funny looks at a variety of unfunny topics. Some readers will find deeper resonance with the author’s self-deprecating but honest story, especially if they grew up with a religious background.

By cb2gp