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A Highly Entertaining and Insightful Book
on October 11, 2003
Dave Barry is a silly man. He's a silly man with a Pulitzer. He's a silly man whose Miami Herald column is syndicated in 500 newspapers. His silly work has been transformed into a so-so sitcom and a better-than-average movie. He's the author of 25 silly books, the most recent of which is BOOGERS ARE MY BEAT, a silly title if there ever was one.
But none of this is news to the legions of Dave Barry fans, a group to which I will unrepentantly proclaim membership. Silliness, you see, is gold, a rare and desirable commodity, especially now as the world cycles through one of those historically inevitable periods in which pretty much everything stinks. Dave Barry's inspired silliness is a reliable antidote to the virus of bad news, news that is often the result of a different, darker kind of silliness on the part of people who, for reasons that often defy both logic and credulity, occupy positions of power --- political, economic, or otherwise.
It's a credit to Barry's skill as a writer that the silliness never overtakes the accuracy of his observations and never obscures the brain behind the gags. Barry twists familiar social, cultural and political issues into funny balloon animals and then smacks them with a length of barbed wire, giggling all the while. To Barry, family life, fatherhood, jobs, marriage, politics, business, and whatever else falls under his gaze is a piñata waiting to be punctured.
Barry's columns are consistently funny, but he is truly in the zone when he's on assignment, as demonstrated in BOOGERS ARE MY BEAT with his coverage of the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2000 and bizarre end to that year's presidential election. His coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City made me laugh out loud several times while on a city bus, much to the alarm of the other passengers.
There have been occasions in his career when Barry has revealed his serious side, and this new collection includes two such examples: a column written the day after the terrorist attacks in September 2001, and another written on the first anniversary of that event. These columns demonstrate his understanding that there is no light without shadow. It is this understanding, perhaps, that drives the relentless silliness of his humor columns. Dave Barry is indeed a silly man, and for that we should be grateful.
--- Reviewed by Bob Rhubart