Archive for September, 2011

Book Review: “God, No!” by Penn Jillette

Posted in opinion, pop culture with tags , , , , on September 2, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales
by Penn Jillette
Published by Simon & Schuster
Kindle version: $11.99 USD

I bought this book because I’m a huge fan of Penn Jillette. Since I’ve known about him and his comedy/magic show Penn and Teller, I’ve been a huge fan. I’ve read every op-ed article he’s written thus far, I’ve tried to catch as many episodes of his Showtime series as I could without a subscription to Showtime. It probably shouldn’t be repeated, but I will anyway: I’m a huge fan of Penn Jillette.

So when I heard that Penn Jillette had written a new book, I bought it. Not immediately when it came out, because I was still waffling on whether to shell out $20 for a hardcover copy. Eventually I settled on the Kindle version, because it was cheaper, and I could read it from my BlackBerry, giving me something to do on the toilet other than play an endless amount of games of Solitare or Texas Hold’em.

I bought the book Monday evening, and read it all night. I read it for most of the day on Tuesday, too, and finally finished it Wednesday morning. I couldn’t put it down. I was sucked into the anecdotes from the moment I started.

Granted, the book is not for everyone. Even as I read the book, I found myself not exactly agreeing with some of the claims that he was making (specifically his definition of what an “atheist” is, but that’s another discussion entirely). The book is simultaneously sweet and vulgar, with anecdotes ranging from touching tributes to his mother, father, and sister (who are all deceased), to his adventures riding the “Vomit Comet,” to a couple of questionable bets he made in the past, including one involving spending an evening in a gay bar in the 1980s.

Personally, one of my favorite anecdotes is entitled “King of the Ex-Jews,” about a young man who made the conversion from Hasidic Jew to atheist, and asked Penn to take him out for his first non-Kosher meal: a bacon cheeseburger. The story is hilarious and touching, and even though it comes toward the beginning, it’s a story that suck in my mind throughout the rest of the book.

I wish I could tell you more, I really do. But it’s one of those books where the more you tell, the higher chance there is that the book will be a let-down for others. But I’ll tell you what: it’s been a long time since I’ve read a whole book in under 48 hours. Even the final Harry Potter book, which I bought at midnight, took me five whole days to read from cover to cover.

The book is definitely R-rated for strong language and sexual content. But if you can get past all of that, it’s a book definitely worth the read.