Picks and Pans Review: Dave Barry Turns 50

updated 11/02/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Dave Barry

Dave Barry can make anything funny. Or so you thought. Reaching the half-century mark ("an age I used to consider old"), the brilliant syndicated columnist promises "a celebration of the aging process." Instead, he gives us a plodding, year-by-year historical retrospective beginning with 1947, the birth of the Baby Boom. It's your high school social studies textbook as read by the sophomoric class clown. Nobody buys a Dave Barry book to read passages like his misty-eyed recollection of singing "We Shall Overcome" at 1963's March on Washington. And he's hard pressed to get a chuckle by remembering his reaction to a high school teacher's announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. ("We were obviously not going to be conjugating any Spanish verbs that afternoon.") Sadly, nostalgia and sarcasm don't mix well. What's left are annoying cracks about eight-track tape decks, TV ads and the like—material you might hear from a Las Vegas comic on a bad night. At his age, Barry ought to know better. (Crown, $22)

Bottom Line: Ace humorist suffers a midlife crisis in print

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