April 11, 2014

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audio book)

I don't know what's more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early, or acting like you know what you're doing.
-from Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

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Jim Gaffigan's parental memoir Dad is Fat is a hilarious account of his experience thus far as the father of five young children. Gaffigan, a stand up comedian, and his wife, Jeannie, live in a tiny two bedroom apartment in New York City with their five children ranging from five-months to eight-years old. In what can only be described as self-help meets stand-up routine, Gaffigan explores the thankless job of parenting young children including everything from the deceivingly difficult tasks like taking five children to the park to how his family is able to live in a 2 bedroom New York City apartment and so much more. Gaffigan exposes himself with hysterical transparency that anyone can appreciate, whether they have children or not.

Personally, I do not have children but I've participated in the lives of enough babies to be able to appreciate this novel on a very special level. I guess I can't speak for readers who have no experience with kids whatsoever, but I'd like to think that this memoir is funny enough that it can be enjoyed by all. Gaffigan supplies a healthy mix of advice with personal anecdotes about his children to keep this book from sounding like a dad bragging about his funny kid-related stories. I'm sure it's a talent he's perfected through his years of doing stand-up comedy, but it was definitely not lost on me as a reader. The pacing of this book was definitely on point.

I listened to Dad is Fat on audiobook, read by Gaffigan himself, so it was actually just like hearing him do stand-up for five hours. The only complaint I have is that near the end I was growing a little less interested in the stories about family vacations. While I think traveling with small kids is an important facet when exploring life with children, all of the stories weren't as interesting to me as earlier segments of the book. It's possible I was just burnt out on listening to the audio book (I finished this in two sittings), but that's the only part I would skip in the book if I had to.

While I didn't have any strong opinion of Jim Gaffigan before reading this book, I definitely have a positive feeling for him now. Through this memoir, he admits that he's not a perfect dad, but he's spending every day trying to be the best that he can be for his children and finding the comedy in every step along the way. I think if more parents had such a good balance of easy-going yet sincere, we might have more positive parents and, in effect, more positive children.

Bottom Line: Read this, especially if you have and/or love children! This would make a great gift to any fathers to-be; in fact, they should pass these out instead of cigars in hospital waiting rooms!  4/5 stars

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