Eddie Sarfaty’s Mental was another pleasant surprise in my literary intake. Expertly paced, brilliantly worded, and totally LOL-worthy, his collection of comic essays certainly makes me want to keep an eye out for him on television and in New York’s comedy clubs.
The title of Sarfaty’s book is apt. I initially thought that the stories in the book were rather haphazardly assembled–they followed no discernible chronology and rarely fed off each other topically–but I realize that for someone who catalogues his many neuroses, a disjointed anthology makes perfect sense.
Sarfaty’s stories all deal with some aspect of the psychological, whether it be relationship anxiety or the onset of Alzheimer’s. A true comic, Sarfaty finds both the humorous and the heart-breaking in each. His tale of taking his mother and slowly deteriorating father to Paris on vacation is a perfect example. Sarfaty even spends time explaining how and why he finds humor in things otherwise considered morbid or morose. Having often wondered myself if there is a scientific explanation for why something is funny, I enjoyed his insights.
I’ve read books by many comics (Ellen DeGeneres, George Carlin, Bill Maher) and most of them were little more than transcripts of their most memorable acts or latest HBO special. Sarfaty’s work, however, is so readable that I doubt his stand-up can be as finessed. Good writers can capture their own voice, but I would be astounded if Sarfarty’s literary voice transfers to equal success on the stage. Mental isn’t a stenographed night at Caroline’s; it’s closer to David Sedaris than Dane Cook. The liberal arts education he often laments has served him well.
Pick it up if you’re looking for a laugh during your commute.