I Ain't No This Or That

Rather than pick up physical copy of David Cross’ new book, I Drink For A Reason, like some sort of pre-historic Luddite Neanderthal, I took it in in audiobook form. This was a wise move for two reasons. Firstly, by many accounts, the book is addled with spelling and grammatical mistakes, which would bug me if I was exposed to them because I’m annoying like that. And the audio recording obviously doesn’t have these problems. Secondly, the book is read by Cross himself, and this definitely benefits the collection of essays, lists, true stories and made up stories. This way, it’s more like his stand-up, with accents, inflection and pauses, which are lost in print. Also, there are little cameos from H. Jon Benjamin, Les Savy Fav and Kristen Schaal, which is pretty cool.

The content itself is fairly uneven, as you’d expect from a compilation of thirty or so pieces of varying length and humour. There’s a fantasy segment where David is a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s show, which I didn’t find too entertaining, and one about disgraced-by-Oprah writer James Frey’s latest book, which stretched one joke out for a long, long time.

I far prefer Cross when he’s being rational and making fun of stuff. There’s a great essay about a scrapbooking convention in Michigan, which he happened to chance upon. There’s a reprint of his legendary open letter to Larry the Cable Guy, which you should definitely read if you never have. And a really interesting explanation of his feud with Jim Belushi. Cross’ feud that is. I don’t know if Mr. The Cable Guy is feuding with Jim Belushi. Although the correspondence with Patton Oswalt regarding Cross’ appearance in ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ is omitted, there’s a nice discussion about the “hipster backlash” that he went through. Cross, that is. Not Patton. I’ve gotta cool it with the pronouns.

As with Cross’ stand-up, the strongest material in the book concerns religion and nationalism. There’s a brief section concerning Orthodox Jews who have devised various technological methods to “get around” the laws of the Sabbath. I liked the essay towards the end about our overuse of the word “Hero” (Firefighter? Yes. Guy who ate nine hot dogs in three minutes? Not a hero). And one of the highlights is called “I Hate America! Or, I Hate America?” where he quibbles – very reasonably and articulately – his perception as a liberal Jew that hates his country. (Unrelated: one of the companies behind this book is called Liberal Jew-Run Media Productions, Inc.)

The book is resolutely not a memoir, but Cross teases some anecdotes that will be in his life story when he gets to it. In the meantime, this collection is worth checkin’ out, but if you can, definitely get the audio version. Do that.


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