An unassuming and amusing collection of essays that touches lightly on the modest events of a believably undramatic life.
Raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Hill (Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation, 2012) presents his current self as “some apparently hard-to-categorize combination of a comedian, writer, and musician who was living quite comfortably, thank you very much, in a rent-controlled fifth-floor walk-up studio apartment I was illegally subletting from a buddy of mine.” The author rambles between memories of his childhood and his present experience, both in New York and helping his 82-year-old father settle into a retirement community after his mother’s death. Hill is his own favorite subject, with his father coming in second. The volume opens with the funeral of the author’s mother—“kind of like a wedding, only slightly less awful in that there’s almost no danger of anyone at any point asking you if you’re having a good time.” Here, as elsewhere, Hill hints at strong feelings, like the “gigantic hole” in his chest left by his mother’s death, but he quickly abandons them in favor of humor. His self-deprecating childhood memories tread familiar territory: he receives boxing gloves in hopes of emulating Clint Eastwood only to have the neighborhood kids pummel him with them; he plays a less-than-virtuoso version of “Stairway to Heaven” for a school talent show. The adult anecdotes are equally mundane: he adopts a puppy and has difficulty housetraining her; he locks himself out of his childhood home and has to stay at a Motel 6; he indulges his father’s desire to take a ride in a big rig.
Hill makes an amiable companion, and if his stories aren’t earth-shattering, his unforced humor is worth a few chuckles.