Whether you love him or hate him, Penn Jillette's latest polarizing projects are always of interest to many. In this reliably wise-cracking collection of essays, the ex-carny turned millionaire magician continues his life-long ambition to keep calling it like he sees it, and he sees no god. There are several tidbits of straightforward philosophizing and even proselytizing on atheism as the choice of reasonably doubting people, but Jillette's giant personality frequently looms larger than rational argument, heading unpredictably but continuously into the territory he knows best, which is show biz. Ultimately, the book is a compendium of anecdotes tied together by the ideas of faith, trust, and belief, concepts that Jillette better understands through work and family than he does through any religion.
Nobody else could narrate this book, as Jillette's radio-ready and television-tried nasal rasp is too well known and too much fun. He is in fine form here with some of his best rants, and listeners will immediately judge him as honest, however else they judge him. Jillette earnestly recounts the deaths of his father and sister, pirouetting seamlessly between such sad stories and the more ridiculous moments of his life in Las Vegas. These include deflowering an ex-Kosher Jew with a double bacon cheeseburger, accidentally burning his genitalia on a hair dryer at an ex-girlfriend's in the middle of the night, and tossing his cookies while in zero gravity with Billy Gibbons. True to form, fast-talking Jillette doesn't leave much room for listeners to connect the dots between these tales and godlessness, but that's actually part of what makes them so magical.
Though this book is unlikely to convert to atheism anyone who isn't halfway there already, Penn Jillette's charisma certainly shines through. Surprisingly sagacious and genuinely inquisitive, this listen is guaranteed to both enlighten and enliven. And if it doesn't accomplish either of those noble goals, at least you'll have more than met your monthly quota for gratuitous curse words. Megan Volpert
From the larger, louder half of the world-famous magic duo Penn & Teller comes a scathingly funny reinterpretation of The Ten Commandments. They are The Penn Commandments, and they reveal one outrageous and opinionated atheist’s experience in the world.
In this rollicking yet honest account of a godless existence, Penn takes readers on a roller coaster of exploration and flips conventional religious wisdom on its ear to reveal that doubt, skepticism, and wonder - all signs of a general feeling of disbelief - are to be celebrated and cherished, rather than suppressed. And he tells some pretty damn funny stories along the way.
From performing blockbuster shows on the Vegas Strip to the adventures of fatherhood, from an ongoing dialogue with proselytizers of the Christian Right to the joys of sex while scuba diving, Jillette’s self-created Decalogue invites his listeners on a journey of discovery that is equal parts wise and wisecracking.
©2011 Penn Jillette (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
It's been a while since I finished this book. I've delayed on the review because I've been busy and I didn't really know what to say. The book has been receiving a lot of pub, or at least seems that way to me since I've been following Penn & Teller on Twitter.
Penn's been in show business for a while and knows a thing or two about self promotion. His tweets relay book signing and discussion events and hyperlinks to media coverage. Whether the book is actually getting more coverage than any other book or it just seems that way because of this promotion of the coverage isn't clear to me. Maybe just another case of “You see what you’re looking for”.
Some of the receptiveness of the media to grab on to this book for a sound bite or two may come from part of the subtitle; "Signs You May Already Be an Atheist…”. But the book isn't really about that. Penn's un-region beliefs are discussed, but the book is more personal memoir than theological discourse.
Penn isn't shy about discussing his views with the media, a recurring litmus test for Atheism he offers is something along the lines of answering a hypothetical question. If God told you to kill your own child, would you do it? If you say no, you already have doubt and may actually be an atheist. Seems a bit too simple for universal application, but you get his point pretty quickly.
The majority of the book is a series of Penn's personal life experiences. Each is connected into the religion discussion in one way or another. An attempt is made to offer alternative versions of each of the 10 commandments, but it didn't come through on the audible version as a strong thread holding the book together, more a footnote at the end of each chapter. Maybe in the print version it works better.
The audio book had a nice bonus, it was read by the author. This is personal material, and having it delivered by the person himself gave it the best read imaginable. Penn's also an entertainer, and he delivers on that front too.
Overall an entertaining book, and that's the right word for it- entertaining. Questions on theology and deciding on religion probably won't be answered here. But you might be entertained and have some of your own thoughts on the concepts exercised along the way.
The book doesn't really follow a logical argument or structure. Most of the stories have little to do with the main theme of the book. However, I actually really enjoyed this book. The stories are very entertaining and engaging. He also makes really great points about religion and atheism even though they are just randomly thrown throughout the book. It wasn't what I expected, but I would recommend this book as a worthwhile listen.
I laughed. I cried. It made me think. I didn't really know much about Penn Jillette before listening to this audio. I never watched or listened to Penn and Teller on any talk show, night show, radio show, or their show. I am now interested in seeing/hearing more of this talent. I don't agree with everything he says, but I can respect his passion. It is a book that I have recommended to all my friends.
Loved the book from start to finish. Penn's narration was great. The book has everything. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. But most importantly, it will make you think about the things that really matter in life.
If you are fragile, don't listen, but I laughed through nearly every chapter except for the very toughing segments about family and friends. Sure Penn is crude and vulgar but funny, funny, FUNNY and he is so "right on" about god. I was disappointed when it ended because I wanted it to be twice as long.
Just an all around awesome person.
This is a great collection of short stories/mini biography/life lessons all in one book. I rarely laugh at any of the many books I have listened to and this one had me laughing a lot at no time was I bored and the only draw back was it was so short.
Thanks Penn Jillette keep them coming......
I suppose anything is possible, but if you're in the market for a book by Penn Jillette, you're probably a fan in the first place and more than prepared for gratuitous language and, well...gratuitous everything.
This book was more self-indulgent than I had expected -- less philosophical and more anecdotal. I would use the word "irreverent" confidently to describe this book, but Penn's stories about his family were anything but, and incredibly touching.
In the end, this is a well-performed, human book by a tremendously successful ex-carnie who happens to be an outspoken atheist -- and outspoken in general. That Penn himself reads the book is what really brings it to life. You can take the carnie out of the carnival, but not vice versa. Good filthy fun!
This book ranks in the top 5.
Penn's story about eating a bacon cheeseburger with the Jewish fellow.
I haven't listened to any other performances. If you are a fan of any of his TV or stage acts you will be pleased with this performance.
I laughed throughout the book.
Addicted to Audible since 2009
I have to admit, I have never been a big fan of Penn (or Teller for that matter) but I listened to his first book and loved it and so, I decided to listen to this title and LOVED this even more. Penn is very smart and he is simply hilarious. Also, as a narrator he does an excellent job reciting his own work. Aside from the humor, there’s actually a great deal of truth in what he preaches and his inclusion of George Carlin, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins helps the credibility in that. In addition, the parts about his parents’ death were very touching and emotional while some parts of the book may be considered a little raunchy for some. Even still, overall I thought this was a great listen and without a doubt, I will definitely be recommending this title to all of my friends!
I am a bilingual high school teacher. I mostly read non-fiction, especially history, but I am also a sucker for science-fiction and fantasy novels.
If you like Penn Jillette, you will enjoy this book. It gives some great stories - many funny, some touching and a little sad - and no one else could narrate it but the author. The whole "ten commandments" analogy is a little forced, but the stories were so good that I could ignore that. Penn is at times humble and at times arrogant, at times blunt and at times sensitive. Who would have thought that mouthy Penn Jillette could make you cry? Not laugh-until-you-cry (though there's that too), just cry.
This book does contain language and opinions that some people may not like. I am a Penn Jillette fan (though I don't agree with him about everything) and an atheist so I didn't find it offensive, but I don't recommend reading this if you are more of, say, a fan of Ted Haggard or the Left Behind series unless you really enjoy reading things that are 100% contrary to your worldview. But I would think the title alone would tell you that.
Overall, very enjoyable.
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