Thursday, January 19, 2017

Brooks on Books: Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Since standup comic Jim Gaffigan credits his wife Jeannie as co-author and co-creative director for his whole act as well as this book, I want to credit her, too, so let me put it this way: The Gaffigans are geniuses. "Food," a collection of insights about all things edible, is hilarious. We throw the term LOL out a lot today (at least I do; have the kids moved on to something else?), but it's rare for me to literally laugh out loud while reading a book. Yet I did just that just about every few pages in 'Food." The rest was "merely" really, really funny.

If you've ever seen Jim's standup, some of this will indeed be familiar. The book is not just a regurgitation of his stage material, but it does reference, draw on, and expand on much of it. "Food" is organized as a series of very short chapters with subsections devoted to types of food, local food specialties, shopping for food, ways to consume food...You get the idea. Sprinkled throughout are pictures of members of the Gaffigan family (including their 5 children) eating. They add a pleasant charm to the text, and the captions are often witty.

I could go into a breakdown of everything discussed here, but why bother? It's all funny. Yes, he talks about Hot Pockets. Of course he gives you his take on pizza (he's in favor of it). He explains how he divides the United States into different regions based on their food, like "Mexican Foodland" and "Super Bowl Sunday Foodland" (and even has a nifty map).

His style is extrememly joke heavy but always readable. Even though it seems like every other sentence has a line about his lack of control, it's never repetitive nor forced, and the whole thing sounds like, yep, this is Jim Gaffigan talking to  you. Sometimes there are clever callbacks to previous chapters, an indication that the book is not just a collection of jokes as well as proof that the writing is much more skilled than one might anticipate from such an easily digestible (sorry) humor volume.

In short, if you like Jim Gaffigan, read this. It's a riot.

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