Review

My Goodness: A Cynic's Short-lived Search for Sainthood

by Joe Queenan



My poor wife has not had a decent night of sleep since we have been
married. I have kept her awake each night by a) snoring; b)
entreating her to make the mattress go rickety-rickety with me;
and/or c) reading to her something clever out of whatever I happen
to be reading. Accordingly, for the last couple of nights I have
been reading to her practically every word of MY GOODNESS, one of
two new Joe Queenan books released this month.

Queenan, of course, is the rapier-witted, laser-tongued critic and
columnist who has made a career out of attacking virtually everyone
who walks in front of his sniperscope, and doing it with such
dead-on accuracy that only the biggest pouty-pants would ever think
of objecting. Among those who have come under his withering gaze
are the Hollywood do-gooders among us, those annoying, nattering
naybobs and scolds who are always there on the front lines anytime
there is a tree, cop killer, or babymurderer to be hugged. These
would include, but are by no means limited to, Paul Newman and
Robert Redford, who have irritated me to the point that I watch
BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID on a weekly basis to root for
the waterfall; Susan Saranwrap; any actor whose last name ends in
'Baldwin'; and Jackson Browne, who is busy saving the environment
when not pimpslapping his girlfriend or breaking up
marriages.

The thrust of MY GOODNESS is that Queenan one day has a catharsis
and decides to spend the remainder of his life performing Random
Acts of Kindness (RAKs) and Senseless Acts of Beauty (SABs). His
efforts are --- what would you expect? --- hilarious. He starts an
organization named "Dolci for Dissidents," which passes Italian
pastries out to White House protesters; but find out in the process
that it is extremely difficult to find Italian pastries in
Washington, DC. He joins an oh-so-politically correct long distance
service, only to get reamed on his international charges. He
eschews his favorite athletic shoes in favor of a brand that is
more labor friendly, and injures himself using them. Queenan soon
discovers that it is, indeed, hard to be good. Or whatever passes
for it these days.

Along the way, we get a list --- partial, of course --- of everyone
Queenan has insulted over the past several years, and his attempts
to make amends to at least a few of them (O.J. Simpson did not make
the cut); a history of goodness, from Jesus Christ to Sting
(Queenan's accounts of the tortures inflicted on Christian martyrs,
by the way, are not made up, at least by him); and accounts of how
his newfound enlightenedness affects his family (no good deed goes
unpunished). And best of all, MY GOODNESS has a happy ending:
Queenan decides to go back to being his basically nasty,
attack-mode self. What would we do without him? Thankfully, we
don't have to worry about that.

MY GOODNESS, from first page to last, by actual count averages 3.7
great laughs per page. While it does not do much for peaceful
marital slumber, it is a brilliant send up of the Anointed among us
who, alas, have become more irritating and pervasive than the
Moonies or the Krishnas (who at least confined themselves to
airports), as well as a fascinating account of one man's journey
from the Darkside to the Light, and back again. Welcome back, Mr.
Queenan.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

My Goodness: A Cynic's Short-lived Search for Sainthood
by Joe Queenan

  • Publication Date: July 11, 2001
  • Genres: Humor
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 0786884665
  • ISBN-13: 9780786884667