Less a memoir than a collection of anecdotal tales told with humor and sass by retail-display designer Sarno.
Contrary to the book’s title, the author seems to have been fairly clear about what he wanted to do with his life from a young age. From his birth in 1936 through his childhood in Italian enclaves on Long Island, N.Y., and New Jersey, we follow his growing interest in sports and art. When he tossed aside a full scholarship to Parsons School of Design, it didn’t take him long to find a job in a department-store display department, which led to a long, satisfying career. Along the way we meet Sarno’s two wives and two children, the first of each disappearing as quickly as did Sarno’s father earlier in the book, and dozens of friends, relatives and associates who come and go with such rapidity that few stand out. Maybe Sarno missed his true calling—he clearly fancies himself a comedian—but his telling-rather-than-showing writing style fails to draw in readers. A strong editorial hand could have reined in his stream-of-consciousness style without doing any harm and would definitely have made the book easier to read. To hear Sarno tell it, nearly everything he touched turned to gold…until that last misstep on the six concrete steps that led to his downfall in more ways than one and gave him the time and inclination to turn his hand to storytelling. The author’s life—including his strong relationship with his son, his brushes with the Mob and even his incessant practical jokes—has the makings of an amusing, warm-hearted book. However, though he believes his life is instantly relatable, this is the type of book best shared with relatives and close friends.
A sometimes-amusing, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny look at the life of a man who clearly isn’t down for the count quite yet, despite his injuries.