Mulgrew (Everything Is Wrong with Me, 2010) returns to his formative years at an exclusive prep school for bright boys and finds a ton of absurdist comedy gold to mine.
As a teen, the author enjoyed growing up in a close-knit, lower-middle-class neighborhood in Philadelphia, where scrapes were common and everybody knew your business. But Mulgrew also pined for the rarified atmosphere of elevated learning offered by Saint Joseph's Preparatory School. The author has a good sense of comic timing, whether he’s relating his introduction to the wonderful world of self-gratification or describing his penchant for wearing a full-length fur cape around school grounds. Mulgrew's cynical run for class vice president serves as the penultimate moment of his often-raucous recollections, but there are plenty of other hilarious vignettes along the way. Luckless in love, the author also garners both compassion and condemnation for his feckless way with women. Characters from Mulgrew's previous memoir, like his two-fisted dad and no-nonsense mom, make return appearances that are both funny and profound. Relentlessly self-deprecating yet unabashedly accepting, the author displays a palpable sense of humanity. Things only slightly slow down and threaten to veer into potentially pretentious territory when Mulgrew runs down his all-time favorite songs. He quickly redeems himself, however, with an emotionally honest story involving his father and a rebuilt motorcycle that the ill-equipped son cannot possibly master.
A young writer finds once more that it isn't too early to look back on his life and laugh out loud.