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You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About Hardcover – March 4, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

P.J. O'Rourke and Dave Barry in Conversation

In the first paragraph of the prologue to his new book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way... And It Wasn't My Fault... And I'll Never Do It Again, political humor writer P.J. O'Rourke declares in no uncertain terms that he is "full of crap." Similarly, in the introduction to his upcoming book, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty, humor columnist Dave Barry explains that his book, despite its subtitle "Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About," is not about parenting.

It's easy to imagine that when these two bestselling authors and longtime pals get together, commiserative silliness ensues. But in this case, no imagination is necessary. We popped in on an email exchange between these two masters of existential trolling. Here's what happened:

Dave Barry: P.J. — I loved The Baby Boom which manages to be both hilarious and insightful. What I want to know is: How did you remember all that stuff? Especially about the '60s. Didn't you take drugs? Of course not! Neither did I! Drugs are bad! But my memories of that era are very purple-hazy, whereas you seem to remember every detail of everything that happened. How did you do that?

P.J. O'Rourke: I made it up. I'm a professional reporter. I'm PAID to make things up. Actually, I do remember a lot about the '60s. Probably because I still know a lot of the same people. And they're still yelling at me about things I did back then. Keeps memories fresh. Sort of like a wife. Just kidding, dear. Sort of like a first wife. And I loved You Can Date Boys When You're Forty. You admit you went to a Justin Bieber concert. Kind of pushing the envelope even for a confessional memoir. You're brave, dude, brave.

DB: I did indeed go to a Justin Bieber concert, because my daughter really really really wanted to go because she LOVED Justin Bieber. It was terrifying. I was in Coral Gables, Florida, in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew passed over and nearly took off the roof of the home in which I was cowering. I understood then why the noise of a hurricane is always compared to a freight train. What it SHOULD be compared to is a Justin Bieber concert. Given the choice, I'd rather sit through Andrew again.

PJO: When I pick my daughters up from school they, for some reason I can't imagine, don't want to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and so they tune the radio to what sounds to me like somebody donated 200 drum sets and an Auto-Tune to a juvenile delinquent corrections facility. But does this mean today's music sucks? Yes.

Read the full conversation on Omnivoracious.

From Booklist

Parenting is one of many topics Barry treats to his humorous take on life. The author of I’ll Mature When I’m Dead (2010) recalls taking his 13-year-old daughter to a Justin Bieber concert, where she pitched an invitation to her bat mitzvah onto the stage, where it was then ignored in the ensuing dance frenzy. Barry offers a baby-boomer perspective on a faster-paced life of electronic gadgetry and the Internet and ponders the aging process, including getting mail marketing Medicare and watching Viagra commercials in the company of your children. Barry laments the current lack of manliness and offers detailed instructions on a host of activities a manly man should be capable of doing, such as barbecuing a steak, jump-starting a dead battery, riding a horse, and performing emergency first aid, and offers hilarious musings on the popularity among women of Fifty Shades of Grey (2011). Barry fans will appreciate this latest collection by the Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist. --Vanessa Bush
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399165940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399165948
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Being a long-time Dave Barry reader (along with Mike Royko and the other "old school" humor set for years), I enjoyed this book.

It is straightforward, like his other humor books, "The Taming of the Screw," "I'll Mature When I'm Dead," etc. The general subject matter is "getting older." While there were not any fart or booger jokes that I can recall, there was a long section on the nationwide epidemic of "noodle d**k," 50 Shades of Grey, musing about turning 65, and Justin Bieber/One Direction. It made me laugh out loud at least three times, AND I was reading this at the same time that I had the flu, i.e., feeling miserable. No mean feat!

While the majority of the best essays are stacked up front, this is still a book to read. Dave Barry is a master of situational comedy, he does it in print, and he's been doing it for years. Buy it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dave Barry has been writing humorous essays for decades and has polished his skills to the point that he can effortlessly skewer just about any cultural trend he cares to. Though the title of this collection suggests that it will be about parenting, it isn't really. Only one of the nine essays touches on the subject (and even that one is devoted mostly to making fun of Justin Bieber). The longest essay in the collection is about a trip to Israel. But the collection needed a title, and I suspect his publishers felt that a "parenting" collection would sell best, so here it is.

Barry is in good form here; I chuckled out loud many times when reading this book, starting in the introduction. Barry has always been self-deprecating, and it's often funny, and it works well here. It's especially good when he can simultaneously make fun of himself for being a wimp, for example, while mocking those who behave differently for being foolhardy (see his discussion of young men shooting bottle rockets out of their derrières, for example).

The book is best when Barry makes fun of things he hasn't mocked before — Justin Bieber, Fifty Shades of Gray, Viagra commercials. It's weakest when he uses the same techniques to tread over ground he has visited before, like trying to help his daughter with her homework, or when he makes fun of his wife for shopping too much. He returns to that last trope repeatedly, and it seems chauvinistic and kind of mean.

On balance, this is another excellent collection from an author who has hit his stride. Not a long collection; I read it in about two hours. It would be a good gift for most grownups, especially fathers.
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The first couple of chapters were vintage Barry...but then I found myself skipping many paragraphs...the whole Israel trip was boring to me. I love Dave Barry, always have, but this book, well, just didn't do it.
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I've been reading Dave Barry for more than 30 years and many years ago I found his books uproariously funny. Either he's not as funny as he once was or it takes more for me to laugh out loud. This book was much better than the previous four or five (including his novel) but it wasn't as funny as his earlier books on babies, etc. It's worth reading but if you're looking for the Dave Barry of the 1980s and '90s, it's not quite here.
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I was a huge fan of Dave Barry's old syndicated newspaper column. I still miss it. I've also loved his past humor books. Like any humorist, his jokes can be a bit hit or miss. Still, I could always count on a few laugh-out-loud passages. In recent years, Barry has been devoting most of his efforts to non-humorous fiction.

This new book is his first funny book in a while. I enjoyed it. If you like Barry's humor, I think you will too. The last chapter on "How to Become a Professional Author" is as funny as anything he has ever written.

Two points that keep me from giving the book five stars:

1) The book is very short. Even with ample margins, a large type face, and a lot of white space on many pages, it still only comes to 224 pages. I suspect that Barry is a little burned out on writing funny essays or too preoccupied with his other work to generate enough material for a book of normal length.

2) Some of the humor is a bit crude. He occasionally uses profanities and obscenities and some of the references are, shall we say, a bit earthy. Not sure what this is about. Perhaps he would always have liked to have written this way but was constrained by what is considered appropriate in a newspaper column. Or perhaps this is his way of trying to appeal to current audiences who are used to comedy movies and standup comedians going far beyond the crudity Barry engages in here. It wasn't off-putting enough to ruin the book for me, but I thought some people might appreciate a head's up.
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The first half or so of the book is classic Dave Barry - hilarious. Unfortunately, he ran out of material for the last part of the book and decided to fill in with a lengthy story about his vacation in Israel. Not funny at all. In fact, rather tedious.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have adored Dave Barry ever since I stole my mother's omnibus of his books and read it in secret. But since he no longer writes syndicated columns, I admit that he's kind of fallen off my radar.

So after a few years of not really reading much of Barry's work, "You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About" is like visiting that rare nostalgic spot that still holds up even when you're older -- lots of rambling, goofy descriptions about family, life, sex and the many woes of being a parent.

Barry assures us that in addition to parenting, this book "covers many other topics, including grammar, sex, camels, women, brain surgery, sex with women, how to become a professional author, airlines, Justin Bieber and death." A lot of those are pretty connected, I suspect... especially the last two.

Among the topics he tackles: his daughter's crush on Justin Bieber, the terrifying ordeal of being the dad to a little girl, the lack of manliness in a technology-dominated society (including "ironic" clothing), reading "Fifty Shades of Grey," the problems of cremation, getting into the AARP demographic, the differences between men and women (sum-up: women talk more), the horror of flying in the age of the TSA, and touring Israel with his wife and a lot of total strangers.

And as a longtime writer, he also enlightens us with the facts about writing, authorship and grammar ("'Leonardo DiCaprio' is a noun because he is a person whereas 'Marlon Brando' is not because he died in 2004") and the proper etiquette for Internet debates ("Your a fascist"). It's certainly more informative than actual grammar lessons.
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