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Book Review: No Wonder My Parents Drank by Jay Mohr

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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.

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About Miss Bob Etier

  • Nicole

    I never comment on these things but someone emailed me this article. We share custody and I had our son for the 2 months Jay was away on his book tour. Having said that the book isn’t about me so I wasn’t mentioned that’s all…no big deal. Thanks for the concern though!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Do children have a right to privacy? That might seem like a dry, academic, legalistic question. Except that, as you write in your review, Mr. Mohr has published “an incredible amount of personal information about son Jackson, right down to a description of his genitals.” I understand that Mr. Mohr is a comedian, and I suppose that’s why you treat this invasion lightheartedly. (“Kids are pretty advanced these days–Jacky may not have to wait for high school to be humiliated.”) But somebody needs to slam this guy for exploiting his son that way. It’s pretty damned revolting.

  • the real bob

    Alan, I was hoping for “ironic” more than “lighthearted.” At any rate, you are absolutely right. Although Mohr goes into great detail about his love for his son, it’s hard to believe the child wouldn’t feel betrayed. Even if the child okayed every word of the manuscript, it seems totally inappropriate.

  • Cheryl

    I find it very disturbing that this book may imply that Jackson’s mother disappeared from his life. She has joint custody and has been involved with every area a Jackson life and the primary nurturing parent most of the time since he was born. He spends a minimum of 50% of the time(if not more)with Nicole (the 1st). They were divorced, she never disappeared. Jackson is adored by his mother and her family, and is a full member of the family. Jay is the father and Nicole the second is the step mother. Oh, and I am NANA!!!

  • the real bob

    Cheryl and Nicole,
    Thank you so much for your input, and for filling in the gaps in “No Wonder My Parents Drank.” Although the book is not about Nicole, it’s nice to know she’s still around and is a big part of her son’s life.

  • Diane

    I just started reading “No wonder…” and have to disagree when Jay says “we are the first generation of I love you dads”. My husband was 22 when our first son was born in 1970 and he’s been an “I love you Dad” right from the start. He’s now an “I love you Grandpa” to our 7 grandkids, and is still an awesome Dad to our 2 now grown sons.

  • meldae

    This book is a never ending bragfest for Jay. I thought he was a funny actor but it turns out that he was just cast in great roles that made him look good. Jay, you’re not the first person to procreate. I can appreciate how much you love that you created an amazing young man. I did,too. So did your neighbor. And your co-workers. And your friends. And your grocer and your baker and everyone else that lives on earth. We don’t write boring books about it because we know that what we find endearing and mind-boggling is actually common-place to others. How did you get this book edited and eventually published- without any of the writers input who have made you look good on film? What a disappointment this book was. And I only read the the first four chapters. Then I skimmed through the rest. Every paragraph that I came to was painfully uneventful and unfunny. Despite the promise of a funny book (in the first chapter). Save these stories for a personal journal that you can leave for your son and any other kids that you might have. They’ll appreciate it. The public doesn’t care.