REVIEWS

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Reviewed By Jamie Michele for Readers’ Favorite
December 2020

F*cking Argentina and 10 More Tales of Exasperation is an intelligent and witty series of short stories that feel like the manifesto a phrase like “misery loves company” would write if it were a person. Gregg Greenberg latches on to both the ordinary and the extraordinary as he crisscrosses through the varied discord in all manner of class and culture to highlight the one truth everyone should be able to agree on: we’re bloody well pissed off…but at least we can have some fun with it. My favorite story is A Side of Exasperation on the NJ Turnpike, a perfectly depicted few moments of pressure at the drive-thru that is essentially a play-by-play of every parent’s experience. Where anthologies tend to do very well on the dusty plant stand between the toilet and a fresh roll of paper, this one will receive pride of place on the bedside nightstand. Very highly recommended.

 

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Reviewed By Rod Raglin for Manhattan Book Review
January 2021

It’s Not You, It’s BFJ, one of the eleven humorous short stories in Gregg Greenberg’s collection, F*cking Argentina and 10 More Tales of Exasperation, has the protagonist breaking up with the love of his life because he can’t abide she’s a huge fan of Billy Joel. The author cleverly works seven of the artist’s hit song titles into the story for emphasis.

This is only one example of Greenberg’s whacky wit that will have you chuckling with relatable moments. “You may be right, (he) may be crazy”, but since “(I) Didn’t Start the Fire”, I’m using the occasional lyric or title from a Joel song where appropriate in this review.

“Honesty is something seldom heard”, but it rings true in Weinberger’s Back-to-School Night, a tortuous tale of a father attending back-to-school night for parents of children in kindergarten.

In F*cking Argentina, the South American country is anthropomorphically depicted as a deadbeat trying to hit up a wealthy acquaintance for a loan. Historically it appears that’s “Just the way (they) are.”

Greenberg is “Only Human” and “allowed to make (his) share of mistakes” and he does. You have to be a Broadway buff to understand the significance of Officer Krupke Strikes Back and even then it’s not funny.

Likewise, it’s a double fault for A Journeyman Tennis Player’s Prayer. A very select audience may enjoy this but not being one of them I can’t attest to their sense of humor.

Malodor on the Number Five Express is also a bit off. The whiff of intolerance and elitism emanating from the protagonist isn’t appealing.

But Greenberg recovers with The Last Couples Dinner. It’s about the guy we all know, the “Big Shot”, who has to have “the last word, last night … know(s) what everything’s about”.

A dutiful son accompanies his elderly mother to a stage performance only to discover upon leaving the theatre she’s forgotten her handbag. You may have “Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway”, but it’s nothing compared to the pandemonium created by a lost purse, effectively conveyed in Panic in Shubert Alley. A Side of Exasperation on the NJ Turnpike could be described as a high-maintenance-family, fast food fiasco exacerbated by the “Pressure” of “you never-ever-ever stop the car when you are making great time”.

In Back Off Baxter! the author missed the opportunity to develop this frustration into a “Karen” pet confrontation. Instead, it’s the protagonist’s daughter who challenges the pet owner and “Tell(s) Her About It”.

Little Timmy’s Birthday Battle is presented as texts between parents, one at home and one in the car with his son trying to find the location of Timmy’s birthday party. Not being a rabid texter like the rest of the world, I had to go on online to look up the meaning of the text abbreviations and acronyms. Suffice to say, that kills the spontaneity of humor. BOMEI (But others might enjoy it).

The stories in F*cking Argentina are flawlessly written, well-structured, and a welcome respite. Something I haven’t seen “For the Longest Time”. The perfect anecdote if you’re taking yourself and your circumstances too seriously.

 

Reviewed By IndieReader
January 13, 2021

With a humorous spin on otherwise aggravating moments in time, Gregg Greenberg’s relatable short stories in F*CKING ARGENTINA AND 10 MORE TALES OF EXASPERATION will most likely resonate with everyone who deals with the stupid, frustrating and exasperating situations of everyday life. This collection provides an easy, uplifting read for a daily chuckle.

Reviewed By Kirkus Reviews
January 21, 2021

A debut collection of short stories featuring characters with even shorter tempers.

Greenberg’s set of 11 tales starts with a dictionary definition of “exasperation,” and that “feeling of intense irritation or annoyance” radiates from each of these quick narratives. In the tradition of essayists such as David Sedaris and TV shows like HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Greenberg tells stories of highly neurotic antiheroes and their outsized responses to life’s little problems. In the opener, Mitchell Weinberger, a divorced father, suffers through small talk with overbearing parents at his child’s back-to-school gathering.

In “Panic in Shubert Alley,” a nameless man runs around New York City’s Times Square theater district looking for his forgetful mother’s purse, and in “A Side of Exasperation on the NJ Turnpike,” a desperate dad finds himself trapped in a drive-thru while trying to order hamburgers. Greenberg consistently keeps to his theme, but in some works, he stretches into particularly imaginative displays of irritability, as when he constructs an entire story out of text messages between a husband and wife, or personifies the entire nation of Argentina as a deadbeat friend.

The author effectively marshals a wide array of annoyances, but a standout appears in “The Last Couples Dinner,” in which a woman faces off against an “X+1”—a man who feels compelled to one-up everything anyone else says. There are several mentions of the Covid-19 crisis over the course of the book, which cleverly link the tales to the collective exhaustion of the past year. Despite the stories’ extremely short lengths, Greenberg occasionally manages to kindle slow burns of awkward irritation, as in his reveal of a subway stench in “Malodor on the Number Five Express.” However, several jokes don’t quite connect, including a Billy Joel–based breakup that turns into a list of lyrics, and as the title implies, the author often relies too much on expletives to get laughs.

A mix of great setups and occasionally frustrating misfires.

 

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Reviewed By Dontaná McPherson-Joseph for Foreword Reviews
January 5, 2021

In the humorous stories of F*cking Argentina and 10 More Tales of Exasperation, little, and big, points of annoyance direct the action.

Life has a way of getting in the way in Gregg Greenberg’s short story collection F*cking Argentina and 10 More Tales of Exasperation.

Beginning with a definition of exasperation and ending with Covid-19 references, these eleven tales showcase the little annoyances and irritations of everyday life. Friends, loved ones, neighbors, and strangers interact in ways that make great anecdotes for later retellings, though, in the moment, their situations are overwhelming.

The reigning strain of the characters’ emotional lives results in a cohesive collection that is funny as often as it is tiring. In the funny entry “The Last Couples Dinner,” Jodi has been putting off inviting her best friend and her husband over for dinner because the friend’s husband is a one-upper of the extreme variety, and Jodi doesn’t want to ruin her friendship. When she runs out of excuses not to invite them over, her husband makes it his mission to amuse her by one-upping the other husband’s one-upsmanship. Jodi’s recognition of her foibles results in a clear narrative flow.

“Little Timmy’s Birthday Battle” is written in the form of SMS text messages between a couple; each tries to get the other to finagle their son an invitation to a Zoom party. In “Back Off Baxter!” a father tries to communicate to a neighbor that his daughter is afraid of dogs, but the neighbor only gets it when the child in question tells her to “get your f*cking dog out of my face.”

From their benign annoyance of enduring school procedures in “Weinberger’s Back-to-School Night” to their confused irritation in “It’s Not You, It’s BFJ,” each main character is exasperated in some way. With few exceptions, they come across as misanthropes; the exceptions to that rule are the book’s standouts. The objects of characters’ exasperation originate outside of themselves; often, characters exacerbate their irritation by focusing on those objects. But because they are only allowed one emotional note, the characters run together.

The book’s humor does not alleviate the fact that its “tales of exasperation” leave little room for other emotions and interpretations. Though it is foul more often than not, the book’s language is straightforward and uncomplicated. Action reigns; settings are mostly foregone, with the exceptions of minor mentions that fill in some blanks (opposite side of the street parking; sidewalks just large enough for a couple to walk down together). Most can be imagined to take place in any large city.

In the humorous stories of F*cking Argentina and 10 More Tales of Exasperation, little, and big, points of annoyance direct the action.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

Reviewed By Blueink Review
December 2020

Gregg Greenberg’s F*cking Argentina and 10 More Tales of Exasperation is a collection of humorous short stories united by themes of frustration.

Here, Greenberg attempts to wring every drop of situational comedy from mundane annoyances ranging from subway odors and family road trips to stranger propositions, as in the title story, where the narrator finds himself shaken down for money by the Marlboro-smoking embodiment of Argentina: “Argentina stopped by the other day. To be honest, it’s not like I didn’t know the South American nation was going to swing by at some point…It was clear it was up to its old tricks. Making excuses…Conveniently forgetting its wallet every time the waitress arrived with the check.”

F*cking Argentina is funniest when it tackles the absurd. In one tale, Officer Krupke from West Side Story pressures his agent for a role, suggesting he could play a bad cop, but his agent objects: “That’s not the Officer Krupke the public knows and loves. You tried to stop a rumble between the Sharks and the Jets. You promoted peace between races. You’re a healer Officer Krukpe, you can’t go dark!”

In another story, a journeyman tennis player prays to face anyone but Roger Federer: “Can you blame me? It’s like he’s the illegitimate Swiss son of James Bond, Cary Grant and Bjorn Borg. I’m surprised he doesn’t play his matches in a tuxedo and drink martinis during the changeover.”

At its best, the stories in F*cking Argentina would fit in comfortably with material on humor sites like McSweeney’s, but the collection overall is uneven. Arguments conducted by text between frustrated spouses, ruined fast food orders, and Dear John letters predicated on the narrator’s dislike of Billy Joel all come off as the curmudgeonly, “get off my lawn” sort of humor that more often than not falls flat.

The weaker material drags down the collection overall. Still, readers willing to overlook these parts will find legitimately funny interludes in this offering.

 

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