Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Humorous Memoir Review: Holly Jolly Nothing by Vincent Daniels

Holly Jolly Nothing
by Vincent Daniels

Detroit native Vincent Daniels delivers a hilarious retelling of his absurd childhood as a mixed-race Jehovah's Witness whiz kid in an all-white Catholic-dominated community. Add in some energetic cult conventions, a neighboring halfway house, an unhealthy dinosaur obsession, a couple zealous, quirky parents, and a doozy of an imagination, and you've got one hell of a funny memoir here. This essay-style collection of stories is a great choice for fans of David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, Allie Brosh, and Justin Halpern.

Daniels' sharp wit, fearless humor, and penchant for shining in even the strangest fiascos keeps his book consistently fun and relatable. In addition to a laugh-out-loud peek into what it's like to be a holiday-avoiding, door-to-door mini preacher, Holly Jolly Nothing sends you on a grandiose trip back to childhood, complete with first crush freak-outs, sleazy after-school jobs, grade school victories and debacles, head-scratchingly odd neighborhood kids, and other coming-of-age awesomeness - all penned with a strong dose of warmth, wonder, and belly laughs.

Don't let the idea of childhood nostalgia fool you though. These stories aren't mild salsa. There's enough spicy adult humor here to set up a lifetime of Judd Apatow movies. And for fans of Daniels' first book, Meaty Balls, don't worry - the author's voice-of-the-people, gleefully-less-than-PC perspective is present on all levels, as is his self-targeting, sincere humor. Daniels' musings are on par with the best Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, or John Mulaney stand-up comedy. In summary, if you think laughter is the best medicine, don't walk, RUN, to get yourself a copy of Holly Jolly Nothing!

My Review:
As with Meaty Balls, the author’s description is boastful, but spot on. Loved every moment of it.

These memoirs are hilarious, but also relatable.

There’s no shortage of adult humor and irreverence, and I found both to be delightful. It’s insane how it works so well within the context of a childhood memoir. I recommend following every footnote as they appear. Very funny, especially the challenge that’s revealed in the very last one. I particularly loved the toy cowboys and indians story and the dinosaur know-it-all story. Oh, and the science fair debacle had me rolling. They sort of bounce around in the timeline, but they still flow.

Now, these memoirs are humorous, but there are some serious bits in there. If you want to know what it’s like to be a kid and have to abstain from the pledge or avoid holiday everything or preach to your neighbors and friends (or even your paper route customers), the author nails it. I experienced much of the same, and to me, the accounts come across as honest and accurate, though not painted in the rosiest of lights. That being said, I don’t think my JW friends or family would like it, at all.

Overall, I loved this book as much as I did Meaty Balls, which is to say, a lot. I strongly recommend this to folks who love witty, humorous memoirs with a good dose of potty language. Not for the easily offended.

I purchased this book from Amazon.
Author Links (in this case, almost as entertaining as the books themselves):
Twitter @quite_meaty
Goodreads Vincent Daniels
Facebook Page Author Vincent Daniels