4 out of 4 stars
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I've just finished reading Jeff Nitzkin's new book Toil...ing. Instead of reading it in one go like I prefer to read a book for review, life had me put it down and pick it up several times over the course of the month. It just so happens that the book is designed to be digested in such a way. The title is a contraction of "toilet" and "reading", referring to snippets of text short enough to read during a bathroom visit or three. It is a compilation of essays ranging from 1 1/2 to 5 pages long. Most of them are funny, but some are serious. They are all thought-provoking.
The 230-page Toil...ing covers a wide range of topics, but recurrent themes are food, commerce, social graces and general life wisdom. It is evident the author has considered his subjects in depth, as he expertly relates his thoughts on them with brevity. Mr. Nitzkin's lifetime business experience is apparent in his witty observations of marketing, price setting and sale schedules.
I really enjoyed Toil...ing. The pieces are appealing and stimulating. Essays at the end of the book ("The Gracious Guest", "Brian Williams....What Will You Do?" and "Spot On") are just as appealing as "Third Couple Rule", "A Meltdown" and "Summer Jobs" are at the opening of the collection. Mr. Nitzkin includes a compilation of articles ranging from hilarious to sobering. A couple of funny lines that stand out for me are "Noon is for gunfights and cigarettes" (from "Lunch") and "There is no high four!" (from "The Handshake"). The author's examination of parent-child relationships and his own childhood is touching in "Mom and Dad".
Mr. Nitzkin's humor is smart and side-splitting. I can imagine his pieces being delivered by Jim Gaffigan or Paula Poundstone. I was getting over a chest cold while reading this book and some of the essays, including "Road Rage Rule" and "The Dentist", had me bursting out with such unbridled laughter that I had to put the laptop down and excuse myself from the room. What unattractive grimace took residence on my face as I struggled to maintain at least a modicum of composure? Regardless of how I looked, I felt so much better afterward. This was a case of laughter truly being the best medicine. Thank you Mr. Nitzkin.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The topics are engaging, the text flows well and, with only a handful of grammatical errors, the book appears to be professionally edited. As icing on the cake, the author delivers scathing social commentary without using an excess of profanity. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Nitzkin. He can put an unattractive grimace on my face any day.
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