By Amy Price
When an overly embarrassing moment (like having to ask a girl you like to guard the bathroom door while you relieve your bowels for 20 minutes on your first date) occurs, it is not easily forgotten. Author and screenplay writer Justin Halpern revisits every single awkward life-altering moment he has had in regard to women, sex and love in his second non-fiction book, released May 15, “I Suck at Girls.”
Halpern became famous after his Twitter page, “Shit My Dad Says,” went viral in August 2009. According to a Q-and-A on www.metro.co.uk, Halpern’s tweets, with the re-tweet help of comedian Rob Corddry, gained this fairly unknown writer more than 100,000 followers within a couple of months. The popularity helped him secure a book and TV deal for “$#*! My Dad Says,” and as of press date, the Twitter feed is at 3,202,809 followers.
The hilarious and often profane words of wisdom are from Halpern’s Jewish, retired radiologist father, Samuel Halpern. His father’s outlandish, no-holds-barred, back-to-basics approach to life has given Justin the ammunition to write two books based on his father’s insight.
In his new book, “I Suck at Girls,” the title almost says it all. The book starts with Justin questioning the pursuit of marriage to his girlfriend of four years, Amanda. As usual, he asks his father for advice during a casual lunch at a pizzeria. After several pages of hilarious back-and-forth banter, his father tells him to approach the situation scientifically and to gather as much information as he can about his past relationships and how they were handled.
Then the book details in 11 short essays a memoir of moments in Justin’s life that were lessons in the language of love, sex and humiliation.
“I Suck at Girls” is a quick and fun read. The book is enjoyable and a downright laugh-out-loud side-splitter.
In his first essay, “I like it,” Justin develops an elementary school crush on Kerry, the girl sitting next to him. For weeks, the only way he can think of to express his affection is to poke her with pens and pencils and to steal her My Little Pony lunch box. He finally works up the nerve to show her how he feels by drawing a picture for her. Justin drew a picture of the girl with a dog sitting above her head, defecating, and a speech bubble next to the girl that read, “I like it.” The girl cried and screamed when she saw it, and Justin describes the ramifications of his actions.
Samuel is called into the principal’s office and only really cares about why the dog is floating above Kerry’s head in the picture. “He’s got dogs flying around, people wearing fuckin’ T-shirts with their names on them, like everybody works at a goddamn auto shop. All I’m saying is, there’s multiple problems at work here,” Samuel said in the book.
The rest of the novel seems to get more gauche and more uncomfortable for Justin. It is hard to put “I Suck at Girls” down once you start reading, with each situation outdoing the last one.
Justin’s use of description helps play out the stories as if they are being told by a best friend.
Toward the end of “I Suck at Girls,” Justin meets Amanda and a feeling of warmth and adoration toward Justin takes over the comical element, as he describes how he cannot think about anyone but her.
“I Suck at Girls” is a comedy turned serious romance on the quest of finding and securing lifelong happiness with that significant other. The situations are easily relatable, giving the book a personal touch for its readers.
A review by Publishers Weekly said: “Fans of his previous work will slide right into this one, as Halpern Sr. is a frequent commenter on the proceedings, and his priceless and profane bon mots are too good to pass up in this light and charming rom-com of a memoir.” I agree, do not pass this book up. Unless you hate laughing.