Friday, June 13, 2014

A Great Book For Father's Day- Good Talk Dad by Bill and Willie Geist

Good Talk Dad by Bill and Willie Geist
Published by Grand Central ISBN 978145554727
Hardcover, $27, 272 pages

Bill Geist has been doing pieces for CBS Sunday Morning for years. He usually profiles interesting (quirky) people and places, and his sense of humor makes me smile. His son Willie Geist is currently one of the co-hosts on the third hour of the Today Show, and is featured on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He clearly inherited his father's sense of humor.

Just in time for Father's Day, they have written a book that I dare say most of us can relate to: Good Talk Dad: The Birds and The Bees...And Other Conversations We Forgot To Have, which pokes fun at the fact that Bill never gave Willie 'the sex talk'. Come to think of it, they never had deep conversations about other important things either. Sound familiar?

Early on, Willie describes embarrassingly being baptized as a 19 year-old in a church service, along with several babies sleeping peacefully in their mother's arms. He asks: 
"Couldn't they have done this in a private ceremony before the service, as they do with the technical awards at the Oscars? In a ceremony earlier today, nineteen-year-old Willie Geist was given the sacrament of baptism."
If that made you giggle, you'll love this book as much as I did. Bill and Willie alternate telling stories from their lives, some of which differed depending on whom was telling it.

Bill and his wife Jody decided to send Willie to summer camp. But not to the camp that all Willie's friends were going to; Willie went to Camp Carson, "where convicted nonviolent offenders were sent to serve out their sentences", unbeknownst to Bill and Jody. That wasn't in the brochure. The campers had to decide whether they were safer backing the Latin Kings or the Spanish Gangster Disciples, who, at night, slashed each other car tires as a "prank".

When Bill received a $10,000 check to write a book, he bought a brand new red Jeep to celebrate. Willie loved his dad's "instinct to take that ten-thousand-dollar book check and spend every nickel of it as fast as you could, like a rapper who just got his first record deal".

Some of the funniest stories involve that Jeep. Jody taught Willie to drive on that Jeep, and then when it was all beat up and on its last legs, Jody drove down to Nashville to accompany Willie to college, but they had to make many stops along the way, coaxing that Jeep and stopping to repair it and feed it antifreeze several times before making it to Vanderbilt.

Bill and Willie shared a love of the New York Yankees and inappropriate humor. When Willie's basketball team held a year end banquet and discovered that the special guest was not a famous New Jersey Nets player but the team mascot, the boys pounded the poor mascot with rolls from the table. Some dads disciplined their sons, yanking them out of there. Bill laughed hysterically, thinking it was pretty darn funny.

There are serious moments in here, such as when Bill finally tells his children (after ten years) that he has Parkinson's disease. They found out when they received emails from people after reading about it on Bill's Facebook page. They suspected something was wrong, but never realized the truth.
I met Willie at Big Fish on Broadway- nice guy!
I loved the stories about aunts and uncles and grandparents; it reminded me of my own family. And when Willie becomes a dad, his stories about his children, Lucie and George, are utterly charming.

This is a perfect book to read this Father's Day, or to give as a gift. It is funny, heartwarming (but mostly funny) and Bill and Willie are terrific writers; their voices come shining through as if they sitting next to you on the couch, recounting their stories aloud. It's like S@$t My Dad Says, but without all the cursing.

rating 5 of 5

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