Dan's Papers Aug. 14, 2009

Page 31

DAN'S PAPERS, August 14, 2009 Page 30 www.danshamptons.com

Trainwreck: My Life as an Idoit By T.J. Clemente There are certain books you read to gather wisdom. There are others that you read and gain wisdom from by drawing on your own life experiences. Then there is Jeff Nichols’ new book, Trainwreck: My life as an Idoit. This book is the story of a well-heeled wasp boy with dyslexia, ADD, and a touch of Tourette’s syndrome, who still has the ability to stumble through life like Mr. Magoo and get it done. He traces his privileged education through various schools his parents spent good money on, and rolls out a pattern of events that happen when you have handicaps and are misunderstood. Because Nichols tells his story with the

cadence of a stand up comic, this book will provide you with some really good belly laughs and many chuckles. Nichols’ tongue in cheek delivery of everything from job interviews, prep school events, sub-teaching assignments and his time at Hobart College would translate perfectly to a John Belushi film. What makes this book relevant, besides its ability to make the reader laugh, is its invitation into the world of dealing with dyslexia and trying to fit into normal life. Too often too many take for granted their ability to do the simple functions within a job, taking an aptitude test, or just filling out forms correctly.

Nichols, with his wit, laughs you through the tragedy his early life could have been had it not been for his perseverance and luck. He was blessed by parents who could, and did, spend money to help their son with his learning disorders — and actually succeeded. Often people with learning disabilities don’t have the option of going to prep school. Nichols turns the horrors of his life into humorous stories for others to relate to and draw knowledge from, only to have his punch line bring out the laughter. Beware when reading this book in public — you will laugh out loud. Stories of drinking in college, frequent drug-taking, and the stumbles one takes, bumbling through life, remind us of those moments when we too were idiots, stars of our own tragic comedy. The gift to be able to laugh about your misfortunes and get others to laugh too is perhaps Nichols’ calling. Many know Nichols as a Montauk fishing captain, others as a comedian, but after you read this book, you will always remember Jeff Nichols as a survivor who won when the odds where stacked against even a privileged boy. Trainwreck, published by Touchstone, will never be confused with Melville’s Moby Dick. But it’ll make you laugh a lot more.

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