Paul Peters, the author of this tongue-in-cheek look back at the disaster of a year called 2020, admits to writing Message from Dad—Stuck at Home entirely on an iPhone from his home country of Germany. But it’s not until you launch the Kindle e-book on your own phone or flip through the large-format paperback do you understand why: The entire book is prose in the form of daily text messages to his family—hilarious vignettes into the upended lives we led in 2020—replete with inventive hashtags galore and more clear-eyed emoji than you can shake a schnitzel at.
Should you bother to buy and read Message from Dad—Stuck at Home? Read on to find out.
Quick Read. Good Read. Lol.
Certainly, after 2020 we all need a respite from it all. While it was difficult to find humor in the last year, Peters found an inventive way through this book to articulate what many of us were thinking but were afraid to say aloud: That it might be okay to find clarity in cloudiness, togetherness in solitude, or seriousness in satire. And he did all of this truth-telling through texting, hashtags, and emoji—then screenshotting like there was no tomorrow. This through all of the first 100 days of lockdown.
But don’t worry, there is little evidence of Tolstoy influence here. Whereas the original edition of War and Peace redefined the word tome through its 1,225 pages, Peters makes his point in just 65 print pages (or 251 rapid-scroll screens in digital). So you can breeze through it in just a few hours max of good, clean fun.
In the book, Peters proves there are no sacred cows during lockdown. Personalities from Formula 1 maven Bernie Ecclestone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Tesla founder Elon Musk all get their turns in his emoji mill. Nor are there any sacred countries, as Peters delights in poking fun at his native Germany as well as others around the globe. All is done with a wink and a nod (isn’t there an emoji for that?), and just a hint of The Onion.
Humor, Humor, Everywhere
Scanning the CV of Peters reveals some interesting details, and helps understand his obsession with the mundane. For instance, the “Former Groundskeeper for PGA Tournaments” line item caught our eye. Was it possible he was an extra in Caddyshack, an understudy for Bill Murray? That could explain a lot.
In all seriousness, beyond the golf experience Peters has spent his life guiding bicycle tours in France and Italy, editing TV scripts, serving as a river cruise director on the waterways of Europe, spearheading Kölsch beer pub crawls through small German towns, and other such duties. Most recently, he’s joined the lecturing circuit, and who knows, maybe there’s a TED Talk in his future.
What is apparent, however, is a thematic wanderlust in the textings of Peters. For all of its un-seriousness, the book reveals his deep appreciation for travel far and wide, no doubt acquired during a decade of river cruising. He takes us on brief sojourns to destinations like Paris, Munich, Porto, Vienna, Salzburg, and even Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon—replete with images from the family photo albums of years gone by (he painfully reminds us travel was so taboo in 2020). Enough to make you want to book a cruise, a flight, a train. Right now. If you could.
Worth the Read
We thoroughly enjoyed Message from Dad—Stuck at Home. Peters tells us a sequel is in the works, but why wait for that? And where else can you see Banana Ducks in Quarantine (Hint: Page 17 in the print edition, Screen 61 in the e-book)?
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.