Classics: David Farrier on SeinLanguage

In the first of an occasional series, interesting New Zealanders write about classics of world literature. We begin with David Farrier on Jerry Seinfeld's 1993 masterpiece SeinLanguage.

I’d forgotten SeinLanguage existed until I saw it sitting on the bookshelf in the lounge. I’m not even sure how it made into the house, but I think that’s just the nature of Seinfeld. Wherever you go, he’s there. He’s like Star Trek - a re-run is usually a flick away on the TV remote. I think you can tell I’ve just re-read the book, because I’m typing like Seinfeld writes. Which is to say, it’s like how he does stand-up, or delivers a line on his show: Short, snappy sentences around a theme. SeinLanguage - what a great title - was an NY Times’ bestseller back in the 90s, and the book reads like one of his stand-up sets. It’s a string of observations from Jerry Seinfeld’s point of view. If you enjoy that sort of thing, I hope you find it on your shelf. It’s dated surprisingly well, apart from perhaps the foreword - “I was proud to be the only kid in my neighborhood with a complete Bill Cosby album collection.” Oof. Still, it’s just a fact, I suppose. Chapters like “The Date” (about having dates) and “The Sex” (about having sex lol) are about what you’d expect and feel like they were written by a funny man in the 90s. It’s best when it’s musing about nothing, the aspects that made the show so good. “You can divide your whole life into two basic categories. You’re either staying in, or going out,” Jerry posits. “The urge to go out and then return is very strong.” It’s an entirely pointless and entirely true observation and it’s why people enjoy Seinfeld. I enjoyed reading this book more than I enjoy watching Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It takes less time to read than Stephen King's The Stand which is the last book I read. The back cover, showing Jerry Seinfeld performing a star-jump while pulling a funny face comes with the text: “It’s my book - but you can read it.” Funny stuff Jerry. 4 stars.

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