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The Custom of the Country
Edith Wharton, Linda Wagner-Martin
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, Alymer Maude, Louise Maude

Shit My Dad Says

Shit My Dad Says - Justin Halpern

On Today’s Hairstyles

“Do people your age know how to comb their fucking hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their head and started fucking.”

On Canine Leisure Time

“The dog is not bored. It’s not like he’s waiting for me to give him a fucking Rubik’s Cube. He’s a goddamned dog.”


My father-in-law, also Jewish, looked like a less fierce version of Justin Halpern’s dad, and although he didn’t use the word “fuck” nonstop he also dispensed some acerbic wisdom here and there.

Sh*t My Dad Says has an interesting genesis. Halpern started writing a Twitter page to record the “shit” his father said. For a while, he had few followers. “Then one day I woke up to find a thousand people were following me. The next day, ten thousand. Then fifty thousand, two hundred, three hundred thousand…Literary agents were calling, wanting to represent me….”

The book is no heavyweight – literally or figuratively. It took me fewer than a couple hours to read (176 pages with not a lot of text), but made me laugh out loud – frequently. Halpern organizes the book with short quotations on particular topics (such as the two at the beginning of this review) followed by longer vignettes.

Of the longer sections, Halpern’s description of moving from his parents’ home in San Diego to L.A. provides both humor and poignancy. Halpern has no idea what to expect in L.A. other than the characterization his father provides: "Los Angeles is like San Diego’s older, uglier sister that has herpes.” Halpern moves to L.A. to try to become a screenwriter. His father is encouraging, “Get ready for a fucking of biblical proportions,” but supportive (he offers to pay for Halpern’s first three months of rent):
I figure, what’s the fucking point in dying and leaving you money when you probably won’t need it? Might as well give it to you now when you need the help. Plus, I plan on blowing most of it on stupid shit when I get senile.

For all his gruffness, Halpern’s father loves Justin unequivocally or nearly… “You always got us. We’re family. We ain’t going anywhere. Unless you go on a fucking killing spree or something.”

And, a couple more gems:

On Being Teased

“So he called you a homo. Big deal. There’s nothing wrong with being a homosexual…. No, I’m not saying you’re a homosexual. Jesus Christ. Now I’m starting to see why this kid was giving you shit.”

On Making a Christmas List

“You ranked the twenty-five presents you want, in order of how much you want them? Are you insane? I said tell me what you want for Christmas, not make me a fucking college football poll.”