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Oh, the Things I Know! Paperback – Bargain Price, March 25, 2003
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From Library Journal
Fans of Franken's brilliant political satire (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot) will be disappointed with his latest book. Oh, the Things I Know, while humorous in places, does not live up to the biting acerbity of Franken's political wit. It also pales in comparison with his earlier "self-help" persona, Stuart Smalley of Saturday Night Live fame. In this audio the author offers guidance, of a sort, through many of life's travails. Throughout, Franken appears to put aside what he is best at, humor, and tries to turn out a chapter or two of what Oprah is best at, concern and helpful advice for daily living. Those of us who have laughed out loud while reading his earlier books will be dissatisfied with this slim attempt at humor. Most libraries would be better served with any of Franken's other works.
Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With a nod to Dr. Seuss and his popular tome for graduates of all ages, Franken offers his own advice guide, which covers pretty much anything anyone wants to understand about life. The aptly named chapters include "Oh, the Mistakes You'll Keep Repeating," "Oh, the Weight You Will Gain," and "Oh, the Orgasms You'll Fake (For the Ladies)." Franken tries to be nurturing, yet he can't avoid being blunt: "Someone once said it is just as easy to fall in love with a rich person as with a poor one. Actually that's not true. It's easier to fall in love with a rich person. But to get them to love you back, that's harder." And when remarking on Babe Paley's comment, "You can't be too thin or too rich," Franken adds, "Nobody loves a fat, poor person." Nor does he shy away from debunking myths. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger? Franken had a friend who went in for back surgery, which made him stronger for a while, until the blood clot that formed in his leg during surgery collapsed his lung, making him weaker. This laugh-aloud take on advice books--it is dedicated simply "For Oprah"--is Stuart Smiley with an edge. Reviewer's advice: don't read it while sitting alone on a bus. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Dear Mr. Franken: Tks for coming to work today or any day that allowed you to write the funniest book I've read in many years!
Sending copies to my entire address book 'cause boy does the world 🌎 need a break! Sincerely, debi2 🤓
HIs books are aimed at the international market but here he succeeds famously by keeping it close to home, meaning *his* home, and how he is a mediocre at best Husband and Father and why we should copy him.
Chapter titles, "Oh! the mistakes you'll keep repeating / "....the weight you will gain" / "....the politicians who will disappoint you".
Now he is a leader in Minnesota. Does he disappoint?
Buy this book for a New Jersey to Florida flight..or better, a New Jersey to Minnesota flight!
Sometimes I just can't figure out if he really means for us to take the advice he gives seriously, or if it is the bad advice he has promised to occasionally slip in, or if it is, purely and simply, an attempt at comedy. Hence my ambivalence.
For the moment, I am going to concentrate on some of the more meaningful of his comments: In a chapter titled "Oh The Loneliness, The Loneliness," he comments that we are born alone and that we die alone, even though we may be surrounded, in both cases, by family and friends. Unfortunately, this truly describes the human condition, and the happy man or woman is one who has learned to accommodate this existential (my description, not his) loneliness.
Another bit of good advice is that we should prepare for our declining years by anticipating the possibility for the future need of a nursing home or "assisted living facility," and check them out and pick one that we might like if we ever need one. This should be done while we are still young enough to make a valid assessment.
These are just two exmples of the better advice he gives.
Of lesser value are things like his discussion of the "inevitable" really horrible experiences during the middle years of a marriage. He apologizes to his wife in the afterword, but I think that, even if these chapters were meant to be humorous, they missed the boat.
I also found his advice that one must pick a religion in order to get through the tougher parts of life to be less than valid. He never seems to have considered such secular answers to life's so-called mysteries as Humanism. One can get through life's downs without resorting to answers from the god of his or her choice. Thus, it is my opinion that there are other ways to get survive these tough times than by resorting to an organized religion. He also has listed modern religions in order of usefulness. These rankings might be subject to questioning.
In summary then, the better and poorer suggestions tend to counterbalance one another, and the discerning reader will probably find some ideas that are of use to him or her.
With his sharp wit and conversational style (you can almost hear him speaking these words while you read them), he leads us through the too-often-times hellacious rollercoaster ride of life. He starts with college graduation and goes forward, till the bitter end of life and beyond. It's quite a journey through most of life's misadventures.
The title, is done in Dr. Seussian style and that style is repeated throughout the contents. Examples include chapters titled: "Oh, you shouldn't skip the introduction"; "Oh, the drugs you will take"; "Oh, the orgasms you will fake".
In the drug chapter, he advises people to use drugs responsibly, and that he would be a hypocrite to say not to use them at all, as he is high on drugs right now "prescription drugs, but drugs nonetheless". I can believe that one, but I can't believe his statement in "Oh pick a religion, any religion", that "he has absolutely no idea what he will write next". Franken knows what he wants to say and how to say it.
There's a whole lot of practical advice -- ok, maybe not so practical. Some examples include: every marriage has a "stomach-turning" phase you need to get yourself through. Or, how about, "try to view your stay in a nursing home as merely temporary, because in one way or another, it is". There's some advice for men: resist the temptation to cheat on your wife, and try instead to make sex with her reasonably diverting, by thinking about a younger, more attractive woman.
Along with his suffering wife, he gets some jabs in at Bill Gates, Kenneth Lay, Ann Quindlen and Maria Shriver to name a few. He shamelessly dedicates his book to that inspiration to us all, (especially to wannabe book-of-the-month club authors such as himself), Oprah.
All in all a funny book, almost worthy of five stars. "AL" (see the drug chapter) would probably want me to conclude this review by saying something like, oh well, if you can't be successful, just be happy. "AL" Franken does makes us feel happy, despite all of our shortcomings, or perhaps, because of them.