Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook
        
Author: Steve Doocy
        
Date: 2006
        
Publisher: Harper Collins
        
ISBN: 0-06-085405-7
        
Length: 245 pages
        
Quote: “This is not an advice book per se...because what worked for me...may not work for you. It’s more of a DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME book. We’ve already made almost every conceivable mis­take and can save you the wear and tear of being an idiot yourself.”
        
Yes, there really are some TV people whose marriage contracts outlast their TV-network contracts. Kathy and Steve Doocy have stayed together while meeting celebrities at NBC and CBS and Fox. From their book, you may not learn how it would be possible for you to live with either (a) a TV person or (b) the person your hormones think they want, but you will definitely get a lot of allegedly true, and hilarious, celebrity gossip.
        
One anonymous story I know for sure is an urban legend (though urban legends probably have happened somewhere; the fact that it's a legend doesn't mean it's not true). The stories told on Geraldo Rivera, Donald Trump, Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford, Richard Simmons, Dick Cheney, W Bush, Angie Dickinson, Elton John, Paul McCartney, and John Wayne are authorized.
        
Is this book, like, conservative?” I wouldn’t describe The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook as politically biased, although when people (a) have been married to each other for twenty years and (b) come from a Catholic background, relative to the U.S. mainstream I would have to classify them as reflecting a “conservative” view of marriage. I’ve often suspected that Rupert Murdoch’s attitude toward U.S. politics has consistently been “Which side currently feels under-represented, and is therefore likely to attract the most viewers, and thus the most ad sales, for me?” The celebrity line-up really describes the Doocys’ position. They’ve worked with people who do and don’t identify with any American political party. Their business is friendly, chatty, funny, PG-rated entertainment. A celebrity is a celebrity is a celebrity. The Doocys also tell stories about personal friends who are not celebrities; they don’t use those people’s names.

"Is this book family-friendly?" Well...mostly. Most books about adults contain some things that may confuse children. This one is not explicit but does mention brand names of some products the uses of which children don't need to try to understand.
        
Anyway, this book is not about how to  vote; it’s about looking back on the most uncomfortable, embarrassing moments in your life and realizing that, if narrated like scenes from TV sitcoms, they’re funny. Catch your spouse monitoring her(his) food intake by counting between bites? Catch yourself haggling over the price of a family funeral? Wreck the neighbors’ lawn while moving into your new house? Report a hornet sting as a snakebite? Develop an unhealthy fear of your own dog when the dog eats the wet part of the baby’s diaper? Help your teenaged daughter spy on her boyfriend? Try to “lighten up” the atmosphere in the hospital waiting room? Is there a better way to live with these memories than to turn them into comedy?
        
Fair disclosure: I don’t watch enough TV to have recognized the Doocys’ names when I bought their book. I bought it for the purpose of reading something laughter-promoting to a sick patient who hasn’t watched much TV, either, and might or might not recognize Dick Cheney as a celebrity. It worked. After two hours of Mr. & Mrs. Happy, the patient’s endorphin levels rose so high that he even appreciated the comedy potential of his own complaint. Can more than that be said to recommend a funny book?

Price: $5 + $5 shipping, out of which the Doocys or a charity of their choice get $1. Shipping prices are per package and can be consolidated into a total of $5 for as many things as can be shipped in one package...so keep browsing!