Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: Dave Barry's Money Secrets

Book Title: Dave Barry’s Money Secrets
        
Author: Dave Barry
        
Date: 2006
        
Publisher: Crown
        
ISBN: 1-4000-4758-7
        
Length: 230 pages
        
Illustrations: clip art, including black-and-white photos
        
Quote: “When analyzing an investment, what do you consider to be the most important factor? 1. The amount of return. 2. The degree of risk. 3. The name of the jockey.”
        
First the bad news: This book does not actually spell out the secret of Dave Barry’s financial success. Barry’s real money secrets may never be fully known or explained. I suspect the explanation would begin with “1. Be smarter than the average guy. 2. Be consistently the funniest living writer in English. 3. Express your intelligence and humor by writing as, for, and about the Regular Guy. 4. Have a lot of people publicize these achievements.” In short, Dave Barry’s real money secrets aren’t likely to do the rest of us much good.
        
So why would you wat to buy this book? Maybe because it’s dedicated to you. Seriously: “This book is dedicated to all the people of the world, on the theory that they will respond by thinking: ‘Wow! A book dedicated to me. I should buy a copy.’”
        
Alternatively, you might want to buy this book because everything by Dave Barry is guaranteed to make you laugh. Which boosts your immune system, prevents mood disorders, and reduces the buildup of ugly belly fat. Barry has consistently delivered enough different kinds and levels of jokes, in each book, to offer the medical benefits of laughter to anyone with any sense of humor at all.
        
He has, occasionally, also written serious articles. Which were good, as far as they went. Lots of other people write serious articles that are good, as far as they go, so it’s a pleasure to assure readers that there’s nothing serious about this book. There are some useful explanations of common scams, but neither the description of a typical e-mail scam nor the parody of a “money secrets” infomercial should be shared with anyone who currently has a broken rib.
        
What’s not to love? It’s possible that one reason why this book wasn’t as well publicized or widely distributed as most of Barry’s books is that it wasn’t originally written for family newspapers and therefore contains raunchier jokes. Which are less funny than the clean jokes for which Barry is known. I don’t expect or need all books to be rigorously family-filtered, although I think this website is fully capable of alienating a sufficient number of readers and advertisers, by saying things that need to be said, without unnecessarily alienating anybody by printing an obnoxious word where a more accurate and amusing word could be. In Barry’s novels, when a low-life character is about to be fortuitously eaten by some poor unsuspecting shark, it’s funny for the low-life to scream out a word that rhymes with “bass pole,” because that’s the sort of thing the low-life would say. In an essay, when the punch line is “the true leader...in the sense of __,” Barry’s fans have come to expect Barry to be able to make the perfect rhetorical choice from a list of blank-fillers including “Idi Amin,” “Captain Hook,” “Captain Bligh,” “alpha weasel,” and “queen killer bee.”  And in Dave Barry’s Money Secrets, we’re disappointed.
        
Fortunately, at least ninety percent of the punchlines in this book are funnier than the garbage any teen-troll who can steal a can of spray paint can “publish” on any unmonitored wall. So it’s still worth buying, for chortles like the image of primitive bank robbers brandishing notices like “Give me all your cows and no one gets hurt,” or the list of entities for which a crew cut is “a fine hairstyle,” or the warning about “tip-intensive situations”...or you could open the book randomly three more times and come up with your own top-three list, because each two-page spread in this book contains at least one chortle.
        
The serious explanation of the eye on the dollar bill is almost as funny as Barry’s. The real imponderable philosophical question about this book remains: Why can’t people whose jobs involve handling money read this book at work? I suspect bankers and brokers will like Dave Barry’s Money Secrets, if possible, even more than the rest of us. But they should read it at home. Money, in our culture, is not supposed to be this funny. In its way this book is subversive.

To buy it here will cost $5 plus $5 shipping. (Shipping prices are separate because they can be consolidated if multiple items are shipped to one place at one time.) Out of this, Dave Barry, who doesn't need the money, or a charity of his choice gets $1.