Dallas humorist "Buffalo" George Toomer relives his misspent youth, from grammar school through teen-age fatherhood. Passages on such likely material as his first jockstrap, his fat relatives, and his fumblings with the boned bras inhabited by nubile objects of pubescent desire all sound—for better or, more likely, worse—as if they were written at the time of the adolescent angst they describe. Toomer seems to have total recall for such matters as playground pranks, classic pink-and-black fashions, historic radio shows and rock-and-roll recordings, military school masturbation, and what he apparently supposes to be tribal masculine experiences of youthful public drunkenness and grand theft, auto. Throughout, we are offered such puerile profundity as, "my problem was that of accepting authority from a person I couldn't respect." Of course it all turns out well, as now he fights battles won long ago by others for hipster icons like Lenny Bruce or William S. Burroughs and for Truth, Love, and Zen. All this "When Dad Was a Tad" hooey might pass for entertainment if Dad didn't have a tin ear for the English language. His wife, the author says, "paid most of the obstetrician from her savings," without telling us what happened to the rest of the obstetrician. "Just like everybodys," he declares, "my life passes on." Overcooked and half-baked by turns, this supposedly light confessional finally turns rancid.
Read full book review >