Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is an odd mix of Silverman. It feels in large part to me the way I imagine she would be if you won some contest to have dinner with her: she’d be funny, thoughtful, a little confessional, and always herself. She’d also try a little too hard to be everything she knows you’d expect her to be.

I happen to love a lot of Silverman’s work. At her best she plays a character who’s both innocent and shocking, a kind of child-who-speaks-the-painful-truth. In that character, she’s gotten off some of the really powerful one-liners of the last decade. Out of that character, she’s reflected thoughtfully on how that character works and what her success says about contemporary America.

We get some of both aspects of that dynamic here. In a chapter where she complains about her days at summer camp, she calls Jewish summer camp, “The second worst kind of camp for Jews.” I find myself simultaneously offended and impressed at how much she can pack into so few words.

We also get a sometimes painful memoir of her life as, as the title promises, a bedwetter, something that humiliated her in adolescence and that she suggests has contributed to her public persona. And we get a few glimpses of her celebrity life, with good stories about the ways that Al Franken, Gary Shandling, and a few others inspired and mentored her.

Not everything hits, and the constant changing of tone and focus can fall flat at times, but this is still Silverman doing her best to be charming and funny, and that’s certainly good enough for me. She does both better than almost any of her peers, and I found myself a bit surprised that, when this ended, I was kind of disappointed there wasn’t more.

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