Two veteran raconteurs face off to cover over four decades of family myths and legends.
Co-host of NBC’s Today 9 a.m. hour and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Willie Geist (American Freak Show: The Completely Fabricated Stories of Our New National Treasures, 2010, etc.) joins his father, columnist and TV journalist Bill Geist (Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America, 2007, etc.) in canonizing both great and not-so-great moments in parenting and coming-of-age. The authors banter back and forth in their discussions of everything from a nonexistent father-son sex talk to Willie’s summer camp to coaching Little League. Then there are the tales of underage drinking, how to cook up a fake ID, the family’s Elvis cult and an uncle’s/brother’s pharmacopeia perfectly timed for special events. As in most families, there is one car handed down through the generations, in this case, a Jeep CJ-7. The authors interleave the chapters with sidebars entitled “Geist Date in History” that highlight small events that bear marking—e.g., the day Willie met Donald Trump. Willie also includes a previously published story about taking his daughter to a Columbia University football game. The Geist family, the authors note, often perform rites of passage late, so this book is a chance “to cover our father-son bases retroactively.” It’s clear most of these stories have been told countless times; they’re practiced and well-paced. However, new material about Bill’s Vietnam tour and his battle with Parkinson’s disease contain further revelations and have not been polished over the family dinner table. A strong father-son relationship shines through.
Heavy on bad-boy behavior and sports, the book should come with a six-pack of cheap beer. A quick read that is not for everyone.