My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is funny on so many levels. It’s the kind of awkward funny of ‘hey – speaking of funny, I’ve got cancer’ and the deep, almost invisible funny of looking on the bright side of life (even if sometimes in a Monty Python way) and my personal favourite (sorry) of ‘oh my god the loo won’t flush and everyone will know it was me’ funny.
I read it in preparation for a ‘Writing Comedy’ course that Ryan is running. A sort of ‘I want to write funny, he’s going to try to teach me how to write funny, I better read his book’. And maybe because I was wearing my analysing hat rather than my reading-for-enjoyment hat, I didn’t find the ‘gag on every page’ one reviewer found.
Instead, I found a perfect balance – about six laugh-out-loud moments in total, one intensely shocking jaw-dropping moment that I honestly didn’t know was a thing even though I work in emergency health (you’ll know which one I mean. You’ll just know as soon as you read the words. And then you’ll google it and your jaw will drop even further), and the rest was an honest look at how cancer affects a man and his tight-knit family. Twice.
It was refreshing in that Ryan never once seemed to want to make me feel sorry for him (even though he has every right to). He may have played the cancer card to the max with friends and strangers, but he made it all into the lightest of troubles in this book. We know cancer is cruel. We know it’s tough and merciless and degrading. Yet somehow he manages to have a beautiful outlook, an amazing self-deprecating attitude, a normal let’s-get-drunk-and-have-fun sense of denial. He brings in such personality – about his inherent lack of sportiness, his apparent drive to make his twenties all about himself – and he just owns his weaknesses (love that five-year-old Hawke joke!).
This book was the perfect length and went into the perfect amount of detail: it left me wanting to know more rather than being a slogging-to-turn-the-pages-because-I’d-be-a-heartless-human-being-if-I-couldn’t-at-least-finish-it kind of book.
I have no idea how I’m ever going to pull off the concept of writing funny like Ryan has.