Sterling Publishing ($17.95)
by Bridget Simpson
The title of Mike Edison's newest memoir, You Are A Complete Disappointment: A Triumphant Memoir of Failed Expectations, is taken from some of the last words his father ever said to him; the very last, moments later, being "I can't believe someone as smart as you likes professional wrestling!" Because it is framed as a comedic memoir, at first glance a reader might expect You Are A Complete Disappointment to be little more than a roast of a mean, old, Jewish father. However, Edison's book unfolds into a heart-wrenching narrative of the author’s journey to make peace with his childhood, forgive his father, and find worth within himself.
Edison's resume includes a stint as a porn novelist, a European tour with his punk-rock band, and an earlier memoir entitled I Have Fun Everywhere I Go—all jobs which further fueled his father's ire. This eclectic history bolsters Edison’s humor, while simultaneously adding to his credibility. In frank prose, he admits to those details of his first memoir which were edited or embellished in one of many attempts to win his father's approval. With Edison now uninhibited by the paternal pressure that defined much of his existence up until this point, his readers become privy to the intimate details of the therapy sessions that helped him come to terms with the contents of this book.
Edison admits that in many ways, You Are a Complete Disappointment was created for personal catharsis, but the result extends beyond himself. As he noted when the book began to take form, "The more I tell the story, the more I realize that there are a lot of fathers out there who somehow along the way were stripped of their kindness and their compassion for their children . . . I remember hearing about one guy who started a war in Iraq to impress his old man." Though Edison may be sure that his own father would not be happy with his latest endeavor, his candor and honesty will no doubt connect with many readers who also feel doomed to fail their fathers. Edison's own demonstration of the long, difficult, but sometimes humorous road toward compassion will pave the way for others to follow in his footsteps.