Digging Up Mother – Doug Stanhope

You can gather a lot from the first chapter of a book.

That’s how I have been going at reading for some time. I will frequently procure a book through nefarious means, read the first chapter on my Kindle, then decide whether or not I want to commit actual hard earned money on a book. Frequently, I don’t, and I will discard the whole thing after the first chapter.

I am not exactly sure how I ended up keeping Doug Stanhope’s memoir on my kindle. I don’t recall liking the first chapter. I certainly didn’t find it all that funny. It portrayed a person with a seemingly pretty poor relationship to their mother, and a pretty bleak outlook on life generally. I had seen Stanhope live enough to know that this was part of his act, but something about that first chapter made it seem like it was coming on pretty thick.

Well, one night I found myself with no other source of entertainment short of my kindle and I gave it another whirl. A couple of days later, and I had the book finished.

It turned out to be extremely worth it. The course of the book is pretty much Stanhope explaining how things got to the point of the first chapter. If you go back and reread it after finishing the book it makes a whole lot of sense. You see the journey he goes through to become the person he is, and you see how important his relationship to his mother is. Their relationship certainly isn’t normal by any stretch of the imagination, but you can see how it doesn’t work, and how their mutual disfunctionalities kind of grew into each other.

By the time I got the end, I felt like a bit of dick for having judged him so quickly and dismissively in the first chapter.

The central relationship with his mother aside, the book is interesting just to see what kind of life produce a comedian like Doug Stanhope.

Yes, this book is funny. Whenever I read, that part of my brain that laughs easily is seriously muted. A book that is funny rarely makes me laugh out loud (there have been a couple of exceptions. Notably Catch-22 which made me laugh frequently) as going to see a comedian would, but it often just puts a smile on my face. This book gave me a few actual audible laughs, one hard enough where I had to put the book down.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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