The Barber's Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats
Earlybird, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle
he Barber's Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats
is a collection of humorous essays written by John Hartnett. In his introduction he explains what is included: '
It's a collection of essays I wrote for a newspaper syndicate in NJ and various other observational and satirical short pieces that look at raising children, marriage, school, popular culture and entertainment, politics. Things like that. I wrote these pieces to share a few laughs - there's enough bad news out there - nothing too heavy, nothing too confrontational, nothing too racy.
ost of these essays are really fun to read at bedtime when you want something light that makes you laugh just before you settle down to relax into a good night's sleep. It's a lot more relaxing to have the last thing you encountered be pleasant before closing your eyes and attempting to wipe out the day's worries by actually sleeping. John makes gentle fun of everything from the foolish weather reporter who has to lash himself to a tree to keep from being blown away while reporting on a hurricane to the benefits of teaching your children how to take care of the various tasks around the house. The titles of his pieces are often ironic, considering the fact that in the latter example, for instance, entitled
Promoting the Benefits of Child Labor
, as in many of his personal essays, John loses. His son helps him with backbreaking yard work once and announces at the end that he '
is never, ever doing this kind of work again.
he title piece describes his inability to get a decent haircut. He tells us that he has to keep his hair somewhat longer than a crew cut, since that makes him look like a criminal. He believes that '
approximately 50,000 of the hairs on his head grow in different directions,
' which would be half of all the hairs growing there. He's had haircuts all over the country and paid anywhere from $8 to $75 and always received bad haircuts. Perhaps he's exaggerating somewhat, but he does manage to entertain.
he book is available as a hard copy and also as an e-book, and I highly recommend it for anyone who has a tendency to lie awake worrying about one's children or various impossible problems that exist in the world today. Some of the essays are funnier than others, but there are sure to be some that will leave you laughing.
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