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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The passion and fervor that Penn Jillette puts into the words he writes and hearing that desire for nothing less than truth in his voice.
The various Athiest Baptisms discussed throughout the book.
It can be enjoyed bit by bit. But it is a beautiful masterpiece in one sitting.
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......
My husband is very much opposed to listening to audiobooks, and don't even get him started on ebooks. "If you can't hold it in your hands and smell the pages as you turn them, then it's not a real book." But every once in awhile I'll entice him with a book by someone he loves. Penn Jillette is one of those people.
I have been an atheist for a long time, but my husband is still on his spiritual journey. It was very funny to me when he finished this book, took out his earphones and declared, "Oh my BOB! I'm an atheist!" I've known for awhile that he was headed in that direction. He just needed Penn Jillette to push him past his fears. Humor can sometimes do the job that scientific proof can't.
The downside is that Penn Jillette is a loud, over the top entertainer and my husband is a tech nerd who works on computers. While it's just fine for PJ to go around shouting out about the glories of atheism, it's not so great for a nerd from NC to do the same. I learned a long time ago that you have to feel people out before you tell them you don't believe there is an almighty creator. But the hubs is so excited about his new self-discovery that he goes around telling random people. The car salesman for instance. Thankfully we had already signed all the papers, otherwise I think we would have been asked to leave. The man got very pale and spluttered some unintelligible words before getting up and walking away from us.
What the other reviewers have said is true. Penn Jillette is obnoxiously foul mouthed. But didn't you know that when you bought the book? Haven't you seen his show? Or worse, that movie all those comedians did about the dirtiest joke in the world, The Aristocrats? I find it interesting that the biggest objection to this book isn't that he rejects the existence of god, but rather, that he has a dirty mouth. Oh yes. And he name drops. Well, of course he does! He's a famous guy that knows other famous people. He isn't very likely to say, "I was hanging out with this guy I know that does magic, I think his name is Bob..." No. He's going to say, "When I was hanging out with Siegfried and Roy backstage..." These are the kinds of people he is surrounded by, so of course they will be part of his story.
I liked many things about this book. He speaks so lovingly of his parents and sister, and has the right idea about what being a father means. I also loved what he said about saying, 'I don't know.' As you get older, you start to realize that you aren't always the smartest person in the room. Sometimes the only answer you can give is, 'I don't know.' So, for now, I don't know if there is an elephant in my bathtub, but now that I'm thinking about it, I better go check.
I travel a great deal in remote locations throughout the western US and listen to great deal of audio in various genres.
Laughed til I cryed.
I really enjoyed the various stories told by Penn throughout this book. Loved the points regarding Atheism as well as the views of Penn on the infringement to civil liberties.
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