A giant helping of bite-sized reading

If you haven’t read Tamara Shopsin’s book Arbitrary Stupid Goal (published in 2017), stop everything and get a copy immediately. It’s a memoir about growing up in 1970’s Greenwich Village, and her family’s diner/market, known affectionately as “The Store.”

The book is structured as a rapid-fire avalanche of vignettes, some several pages, some only a few sentences: remembrances, retellings and nostalgia all mixed together with a giant dose of humor, a realistic amount of sadness and several celebrity cameos.

Although the stories involving John Belushi (a regular at the diner who had his own key) are the most poignant and sometimes heartbreaking, one story involving Jeff Goldblum was the standout bite of delicious cake for me. Goldblum was in the diner with Shopsin’s parents and another employee when a well-dressed armed robber bursts in, herds them to the bathroom and tells them to empty their pockets…

“The thief takes fifteen dollars from my mom, forty off of Tommy, twenty off my dad, and hands Jeff back his ten, saying ‘you need this more than me.’”

Arbitrary Stupid Goal is the kind of book that marketers love to mention you can “dip in and out” of in bite-sized pieces, but it’s so good you’ll want to devour it in one sitting.

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Don’t judge this book by its cover. Except, maybe you should because it perfectly captures the “what the $@&#?!” feel of reading it…in the best way possible.

And if you’re hungry for more, make sure to check out the famous eleven page EPIC menu of the original Shopsin’s, and patriarch Kenny Shopsin’s tribute in the New Yorker after his death in 2018.

– Jenna

 

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