Comedian Jay Mohr has written a very funny book about fatherhood that just might get him killed. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration; however, I have this image of his son going to high school in a few years (a few short years, Jay) and having his father’s book passed around, or — better yet — the subject of book reports. But, hey, kids are pretty advanced these days — he may not have to wait for high school to be humiliated. After all, the book gives us an incredible amount of personal information about son Jackson, right down to a description of his genitals.
No Wonder My Parents Drank is Mohr’s uncensored tribute to parenthood, taking the reader from birthing through toilet training (another area Jacky might not want to have shared with friends, since he was a late trainee) and all the wonderful events that can occur between the time one is born and turns eight. Mohr loves his son, and the reader knows this because he repeatedly writes about what an extraordinary boy he has.
Oddly, with all the in-depth details, Mohr does not include much information about Jacky’s birth mother (Mohr’s then-wife, Nicole Chamberlain) and how she disappeared from this happy family by the time the child was two. Since Mohr is writing a memoir about his experiences as a parent, one expects that the separation from his child’s mom would rate a few paragraphs. With his talent for embellishment, a few dozen paragraphs would not have been surprising.
When writing about the preparation for the baby’s birth, Mohr uses first person singular, “I did this…,” “I bought that…” The reader wonders, “Did the woman die?,” “Maybe she was a surrogate…” and “A nasty break-up?” The fate of Jacky’s mother is an unanswered question hanging over the book. His extravagant praise of current wife, Nikki Cox Mohr, makes the omission even more glaring.
Jay Mohr is a likable enough guy, and he’s great with a story. He’s not ashamed of being human and openly shares both his successes and failures in the parenting game. He also shares an awful lot of things that the reader may not particularly need or want to know, such as his efforts to father a second child.
Despite the repetitive nature of Mohr’s narrative, I found that I couldn’t stop reading No Wonder My Parents Drank. The combination of being able to identify with so many of the situations he encountered raising a child and his free-wheeling style of relating the tale suckered me in, page after page. The mystery of the missing mom was also incentive to continue.
While parents are able to identify with Mohr’s experience as a dad, most won’t be able to identify with the privileges and the lifestyle Mohr enjoys. The amount of time he is able to spend with Jacky, for example, could be a source of envy for working parents. Being a celebrity dad is light years away from the guy holding down two jobs just to put food on the table.
In his enjoyment of the paternal role, Mohr reflects on the behavior and emotional life of fathers throughout time, making a few interesting, though questionable, observations. Since they are based on his feelings, they need not be accurate, just true for him.
No Wonder My Parents Drank is a slight, but amusing, book. Mohr doesn’t offer any great insights or new discoveries, instead sharing his thoughts and emotions on things that were new to him. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t come back to haunt him in a few years.