Joe Bliven

The New One
By Mike Birbiglia

November 8th, 2020

Before reading this I had already seen the special that this book was based/expanding upon. I had seen it long enough ago and liked it enough that the overlapping bits weren't a chore to read, I actually loved experiencing these parts of the show again. Though the overlaps were mostly better in the stand-up show they were necessary to the rest of the book to provide context and setup. The main bit of extra content that really elevates this book is his wife's poetry. As he explains in the book, the poetry gives another side of the story and provides the perfect compliment whenever it's peppered in. This book lives in a pretty unique space and thus hard to judge being that it's a supplementary rehash of a stand-up special but overall I'd say it's valuable as its own work. In some ways I feel like the book struggled to understand exactly what it was supposed to be in a way that the special didn't. The book would trail off in parts and feel like a general "this is what was happening in my life in general at that time" kind of memoir and in other parts an update on his sleepwalking condition. To clarify, his sleepwalking really only should have been covered in this book insofar as it pertained to his fatherhood in order for this book to feel really cohesive. Overall it's a good book that's very funny, it's always good to hear from Mr. Birbiglia even if it were just regarding his retelling of lunch that day. The poems by J hope Stein are surprisingly moving and the context that surrounds them, and in a way explains them really helps them land for me.