Ridiculing People for Fun and Profit

It seems unusual to read about an abusive childhood, paternal neglect, and the fight against poverty in a distinctly funny book. But that’s what humorist and cultural critic Joe Queenan pulls into Closing Time, a new coming-of-age memoir about growing up poor and learning to survive. Queenan spends much of the book discussing his childhood—where he went to college didn’t matter, he explains, because he had a "dream . . . to make a living by ridiculing people, and it didn't seem to matter all that much where I got my degree, as you couldn't major in satire or invective." Despite Queenan’s moving subject matter and humorous tone, the Los Angeles Times reports, Closing Time “is, in fact, only OK.”