Whenever I hear someone sneering at Twitter by saying that nothing worthwhile can fit in a 140-character message, I know that person has never spent any time on Twitter. The pseudo-profound criticism is wrong on two levels: first of all, it turns out you can say a lot of worthwhile things in 140 characters. You can be poignant, funny, and incisive, stripping an idea or a feeling or a joke down to its essence. (Oscar Wilde would have loved Twitter. He also would have loved not being thrown in prison for being gay.). But on a broader level, people who think Twitter is limited to 140 characters are just misunderstanding the medium. Following someone's Twitter feed over a period of time lets you build up a pretty good idea of their worldview, their priorities, their strengths and weaknesses. When I first started following Rob Delaney on Twitter, it was because I found his one-liners and absurdist observations funny. But as I continued to follow him, and to read the longer pieces he would link to on his feed, I got a much more complete picture of his views on depression, substance abuse, health care, parenthood and other things that matter to me.
So I was extremely excited that Rob Delaney was writing a book, and I was not disappointed. The book is funny - laugh-out-loud funny - in the way that only real honesty can be funny. It's also heartbreaking, and hopeful, and still funny, all the way through. His account of his alcoholism manages an almost impossible feat: recounting horrific experiences without glamorizing them, while still finding the humor at the core of the most harrowing experiences. One of the things that struck me most was that of all the terrible experiences he relates - enough to fill a lifetime of AA meetings - the deepest regrets are failures of kindness. When he describes his surly teenage dismissal of a birthday cake his mother labored to make him, you can just feel him cringing to the center of his being. This highlights the compassion and empathy that the grownup Rob Delaney displays, on Twitter and throughout this book.