I'll Seize the Day Tomorrow

Image of I'll Seize The Day Tomorrow (US Edition)
Release Date: 
May 26, 2013
Reviewed by: 

“. . . a rallying cry for anyone who laments the rose-colored remembrances of things past and needs to wake up and smell the coffee.”

It’s hard to avoid comparisons with popular contemporary TV and radio shows when listening to Jonathan Goldstein on Wire Tap or reading his latest compilation of reflections on turning 40, I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow.

To wit, programs like This American Life and Seinfeld come immediately to mind.

One could recall, for instance, the episode of Seinfeld in which George and Jerry propose to create a program about “nothing”—no doubt a parody of Seinfeld itself, which is about small things blown out of proportion.

In many ways, I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow is exactly about nothing. And yet this series of vignettes about the nothingness of everyday life—a life punctuated by eating Fritos and melba toast and chicken nuggets—is also a humorous, self-deprecating meditation on what it means to get older, on mortality, and on missed opportunities like not having read War and Peace.

By the celebrated host of Canadian radio talk show Wire Tap—a show in which Mr. Goldstein and his guests discuss topics ranging from the inane to the sublime, and whose recurring characters also appear in this book (such as Gregor Ehrlich, who has also written the foreword, calling Mr. Goldstein’s work “a sandwich made of delicious, crusty, fresh-baked bread” [smeared with hummus])—these “pensées on everyday life” will make you smile if not laugh out loud at the author’s rueful reflections on baldness and bachelordom on the eve of his 40th birthday:

“Forty was supposed to be the age at which I’d have a gigantic flat-screen TV, one that sinks into the wall like a corrugated iron anchor. A wife. Kids. Peace, too. The kind that rises like a mist from a settled life, the life of a man that’s figured out the cologne that suits him and the channels he wants programmed into his car radio. . . .”

“. . . But here I am with no wife, no kids, no car, and no house. Not even a houseboat. And the clever names I could have given one!”

The book is loosely structured like a collection of diary entries, and in these entries—or brief vignettes—Mr. Goldstein begins the countdown to his fortieth birthday, starting with the day he turns 39. He writes about his friends, his parents, his job, his travels to and from Montreal, and love, and embedded in these events are ironic reflections on the quality of his existence:

“I’ve always wanted to feel like my life was rife with potential, but now, as the garbage truck outside grows louder, it only feels rife with potential garbage.”

The daily vignettes revealing him in bed watching movies on his laptop or pondering the significance of his blowing his nose into toilet paper, alternate with short stories that illuminate the human condition further: about Chalchas the Greek, who believes that he has cheated death, only to die at the very moment he celebrates his escape from death; about a woman who has lost her memory and a man who can’t forget; about a poet named the Penguin who flies with an umbrella and meets Mary Poppins; about Picasso; about and a retelling of the “Tortoise and the Hare.”

But in all these vignettes and stories, there are lessons to be learned about life and about the meaning of getting older, often expressed through metaphors of food:

“. . . Right now, forty is like beginning the second half of a twelve-inch sub: during the first half, you feel like you have all the sandwich in the world, like there will never be a time when you aren’t cramming sandwich into your face; but then comes the second half, and the end is in sight.”

Often silly and inane, occasionally human and vulnerable, I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow is a rallying cry for anyone who laments the rose-colored remembrances of things past and needs to wake up and smell the coffee.