Jackson Banks has compiled a humorous collection of short stories, which reads like a memoir written by a seemingly-cursed individual. He does state a good portion of the “I Put Pants on for This?” stories are fictional or embellished, but the feel is authentic. One story details the adventures a young child experienced as a military dependent in Guantanamo, Cuba, another chronicles being held a hostage in the Great White North of Canada due to the vagaries of air transportation. Family vacations do not escape his satirical treatment, whether white-water rafting to Outer Banks camping in the car due to all of the tents blowing away or being in a flood plain. The vagaries of hotel lodging, and those looking for love in the wrong places, are also explored in this short book.
I very much enjoyed Jackson Banks’ witty avuncular writing style which would be right at home being narrated by Garrison Keillor. “I Put Pants on for This?” is well-edited and I read it quickly, although interrupted many times by laughter. Anyone who has experienced the fecklessness of the travel and lodging industries can absolutely relate to the tribulations of his fictional self. A waiter who offers up a special, which they no longer have in stock, because it is their restaurant’s policy to recite a list of specials regardless of whether it can actually be ordered. It’s enough to turn a diner to drink, but funny when it happens to someone else. You too can enjoy the simple pleasures of schadenfreude by reading this delightful book.
Judith Hill has curated a collection of her Single at Sixty Sucks blog entries into this humorous short take on dating after age sixty. Fact is Stranger than Fiction is comprised of fourteen standalone chapters on topics ranging from musings on what exactly the author looks for in a prospective date, to dealing with the all-too-common reality of being rejected. Each story reflects a comedic take on her personal experiences in the post-sixty dating scene or those of people she knows. The entire book can be easily read within an hour or two. A snapshot of what happens when a recently-divorced elder romance novel author ventures out in search of love, or its generic equivalent.
I had a great time reading this book; Judith Hill covers some sensitive topics with earthy good humor, sparing herself nothing. Being male, it was quite refreshing to learn how the other half sees these issues, and also interesting to discover some of the same elder-dating complaints cloaked in a different perspective. The writing is crisp and engaging, without the sloppiness sometimes seen in blog posts. Her blog is marketed primarily towards older women, but older males with a sense of humor would enjoy it as well. I certainly did. My favorite chapters were I Know What I Want and Sex vs. Intimacy, with Rejection is a River and Fight or Flight close behind. There isn’t one weak link in Fact is Stranger than Fiction, and I recommend it to anyone facing the same situation with humor.