A year before his fortieth birthday, and Jonathan isn’t where he thinks he should be. With no wife, no kids, no car, and no house—not even a houseboat—what does he have?
Through a series of wonderfully funny stories, Jonathan recounts the highs and lows of his last year in his thirties, weighing in on topics such as the mysterious McRib, whether an automatic hand dryer can tell if you have a soul, and the underestimated power of a toy poodle. Filled with Jonathan’s trademark wit, I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow is the tale of one man’s journey to find some great truth on his road to forty . . . or maybe not.
Radio personality and novelist Goldstein (Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible!, 2009, etc.) relates the details of the anxiety-ridden final 12 months of his youth before he turned 40. "I wish you could leap from thirty-eight, straight to forty," writes the author. "More dignity to it than hanging on to the last dregs of your thirties. Forty was the age at which I thought I'd have a house full of oak shelves spilling over with hardcover books." Unfortunately, the title is a telling prelude to the kind of bland, non–knee-slapping humor in the latest from the This American Life contributor. The author is another squeaky-clean Seinfeld-ian humorist whose more-clever-than-funny attempts to milk mundaneness and quotidian life for laughs never quite hit their mark on a consistent level. To be fair, it's not exactly easy to bring an original twist to dealing in print with one's childish fears of turning 40, and Goldstein breaks no new ground in the long history of writers fretting about getting old. The author structures his brief existentialist-lite vignettes by the week, beginning at number 52 and counting down, ending with a chapter on his dreaded 40th birthday. Along the way, his silly midlife crisis manifests itself in experimenting with colognes, conversing with automatic hand-dryers, eating large quantities of ice cream, adopting a toy poodle, vacationing in Puerto Rico, obsessing over McDonald's McRib sandwiches and ruminating about how the local coffee jerk resembles Eugene Levy. Though mildly amusing, these activities are never as hilarious as Goldstein obviously thinks they are. There's no real penetrating comedic insight into the human condition, just a jumbled mass of existential clowning and absurdist verbiage that's more self-indulgent than self-examining. Safe, collegiate humor that makes Dave Barry look like Bill Hicks.
Jonathan Goldstein’s writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, GQ, and The National Post. He is a regular contributor to Public Radio International’s This American Life and is the author of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! and Lenny Bruce Is Dead. His radio show, WireTap, is now in its ninth season.