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At the age of fifty-seven, movie critic Joel Siegel both became a father for the first time and learned that he had cancer. In Lessons for Dylan, Siegel shares all the things he wants his son to know—in case he's not around to tell him. It's a story about a life well-lived and about living life well. It's chock-full of earnest advice, hilarious anecdotes, a Yiddish lexicon, and recollections of everyone from Brad Pitt to the Beatles. Siegel lays out the History of the Jewish People in Four Jokes; offers Dylan manly advice on sex ("ask your mother"), culinary arts, the movies; and of course, offers a few lectures ("Be anything you want to be, but, please God, please don't want to be an actor"). Along the way, Joel teaches Dylan, and readers, a little something about growing up at any age.
At times heart-wrenching, at times laugh-out-loud funny, Joel Siegel has crafted an indelible and enduring love letter to his son, and a literary gift to us all.
Good Morning America's entertainment critic Siegel, who at age 54 was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the birth of his first child, has turned his potential tragedy into a warmhearted memoir written as letters to his son, Dylan. Siegel covers a wide range of topics and tells many fascinating stories, ranging from details of "three cancer surgeries and chemo and CAT scans and six months of radiation in the past five years," to personal descriptions of movies that he hopes to watch with his son one day. He offers anecdotes from his various jobs writing in advertising, for radio and as a joke writer for Bobby Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. He also gives great short histories of his previous marriages, his famous interview subjects (including all four ex-Beatles) and his Jewish heritage, including a hilarious glossary of Yiddish words that includes 29 words for "schmuck." Most touching are Siegel's various pieces of fatherly advice, from how to recognize one's life work ("follow your passion") to how to deal with bullies ("If you fight back and get hit, it hurts a little while; if you don't fight back it hurts forever"). While Siegel is currently healthy, his memoir stands as a powerful account of a life well lived and as a beautiful testimonial to the love of a parent for a child.