Follow-up to Dumas’s warm debut, Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America (2006), expanding the timeline to span her life from childhood to motherhood, and everything in between.
Many of the pieces are nothing more than five-page campfire stories, such as the tale of a monkey who showed up on the balcony of her family’s apartment, or the article documenting the difficulty of tracking down somebody to translate her first book into Farsi. A few chapters, most notably the discussion of her uncanny memory for faces and dialogue, are less jokey and more observational. One highlight is a more-or-less direct transcription of a college speech; Dumas loves speaking at schools, “even though most of my invitations are prefaced with ‘Khaled Hosseini was not available.’ ” The author’s fleshed-out, Letterman-like top-ten list (“Write thank-you notes,” “Don’t get credit cards yet,” “Watch less television”) doesn’t necessarily impart the most important life lessons the youth of America will ever receive, but Dumas isn’t about teaching: She’s about entertaining the masses. Her gentle, acute observations of human nature are similar at times to those of David Sedaris, albeit with a considerably lower snark factor. In content, her essays recall comedienne Margaret Cho’s stand-up routines about her Korean family’s attempts to assimilate into the United States without sacrificing their identity. Dumas focuses on the lighter side of fitting in, a tactic that has its merits—she’s undeniably entertaining—but a few serious cultural insights à la Marjane Satrapi wouldn’t have hurt.
Offers a few laughs, but little else.