Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the ’80s

Flatiron. Sept. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781250777065. $28.99. MEMOIR
In this gem of a book, comedian/debut author Gulman revisits his ’80s childhood in obsessive detail, from kindergarten through 12th grade, with all of his awkward and humorous experiences honestly described as precursors to his future mental health issues. In 2017, 46-year-old Gulman returned to his mother’s home to escape the stress of Manhattan and to overcome his suicidal thoughts. This began a trip down memory lane, infused with both fondness and regret. The author’s memory is impeccable—he can describe the exact outfits of the adults who starred in his grade-school adventures, recite the phone numbers of everyone he ever met, and vividly recount the settings of his life, ranging from the classroom to Hebrew school to one friend’s rec room. The characters of Gulman’s youth, from his unusual parents to the teachers and coaches who denote the best and worst of the profession, and the bullies and classmates who both tormented and inspired him, come alive with such exactitude that they leap from the pages and inspire emotional reactions.
VERDICT Familiarity with the author’s comedic career is unnecessary to appreciate his story. This title will undoubtedly generate new fans.
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