If you liked Jillette’s bestseller God, No! for Jillette’s often funny, often outrageous take on life, this is the book for you. If you liked God, No! for the atheism, be warned. Despite the title, Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday! has very little anti-religious content.
I read God, No! and Every Day … in reverse order. After I finished my galley copy of the new book, I visited the local library for a look at the old one.
God, No! was organized, if that’s a word that applies to Penn Jillette, around the Ten Commandments. Penn’s rambling stories were arranged more or less thematically, linked to his acceptance or rejection of the advice of each commandment in turn.
And it’s precisely the absence of an organizing principle this time that left me feeling that this book was more the outtakes of the first work than a coherent book of its own.
This time there’s the same raw and sometimes incredibly raunchy humour, but there’s little sense of purpose or direction. It could be that I’m just missing the point, that the book’s discursiveness is an intentional expression of Penn’s philosophy of life, a philosophy that embraces living in the moment. Or it could be that I’m right that the first book’s success is the principal reason for the publication of the second one.
It’s not that there aren’t entertaining and illuminating parts to Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday. Penn’s discussions of his theory of comedy and his adamant rejection of Christmas in all of its forms are absorbing. But for me, there were too many sections that seemed merely self-indulgent rather than self-revealing.
Every Day … has humour and thoughtfulness, atheism and libertarian squalling — but it has too little of any one of them to be fairly categorized as a work of humour, ideas, humanism, or politics. There’s a pronounced scattergun feeling to the essays and recollections that are cobbled together here.
Still, if you found God, No! a side-splitter or, less likely, a profound insight into the modern social condition, you’re likely to enjoy Every Day … more than I did.