My First Review: My Goodness by Joe Queenan

I was wondering about doing a Top Ten Tuesday post tomorrow but the topic coming up on 23 April : The First Ten Books I Reviewed, interested me more then tomorrow’s topicI remembered that the very first one was I wrote was several years before I began this blog – it was on Amazon UK in August 2001. When I checked Amazon this morning I couldn’t find my review, but I had saved it in my Word documents and I thought I’d post it today. It is a review of Joe Queenan’s My Goodness.

Entertaining and thought provoking

my goodness queenan

‘This book is sub-titled ‘A cynic’s short-lived search for sainthood‘. I hadn’t heard of Joe Queenan before, but he describes himself as ‘an acerbic, mean-spirited observer of the human condition’ and gives many examples from his earlier books and newspaper articles to illustrate this. In his search for sainthood he set out to recognise what a horrible man he had been all his life and decided to transform himself into the very best human being he could be. He defines goodness as the conscious act of using all or most of one’s intellectual and emotional resources to better both the human and the planetary condition and differentiates ‘goodness’ from ‘niceness’.

As he is American some of the references were unknown to me and in particular his lists of apologies for his irresponsible journalism were repetitive and tedious. However, I did like his accounts of practising random kindness and senseless acts of beauty and found them amusing and ironic.

The main thrust of the book illustrates his distinction between actions that he describes as being motivated by a genuine love of humanity and good deeds carried out to salve one’s conscience or for public relations purposes. He does this relentlessly by poking fun at so-called do-gooders, environmentalists, and how to shop to help promote good causes. One of the funniest things is his account of his efforts to save water by taking his own sheets and towels with him to use in hotels, leaving a note for the maid that the bed linen would not need to be changed because he’d slept on the floor and the towels wouldn’t need washing because he’d brought his own. He then realised that the maid might not understand English and would end up stripping the bed and tossing the towels in the laundry anyway.

His account of how to talk to your Guardian Angel is perhaps the funniest part of the book. Read it to find out what God’s answer is on how to make investments more socially responsible.’

5 thoughts on “My First Review: My Goodness by Joe Queenan”

  1. It’s hard to believe this was your first review, Margaret – it’s so very well done. And the book sounds like a funny-but-real look at life. I respect an author who can make me laugh while also inviting me to take an honest look around, if I can put it that way.

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    1. Thanks, Margot – it was my first venture into writing about a book in the public domain and I was very nervous about doing it. At the time my job entailed writing factual reports and I fancied trying something different.

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