Genuinely LOL-worthy moments punctuate otherwise treacly reflections on life in the memoir How Do I Un-Remember This?: Unfortunately True Stories by comedic pop culture podcaster Danny Pellegrino.
How Do I Un-Remember This?: Unfortunately True Stories
Consider How Do I Un-remember This? for these online reading challenge tasks:
- Read Harder 2022, 2022. #17: Read a memoir written by someone who is gay. (I expanded the scope of this task)
- PopSugar Reading Challenge 2023, 2023. #3: A book about a vacation.
- Goodwill Librarian Reading Challenge 2022, 2022. #38: A book featuring an LGBTQ+ community.
5 figures in How Do I Un-remember This?
- Danny Pellegrino: Danny is an entertainer who views pop culture through the unique lenses of his Midwestern upbringing and his queer “other-ness,” often to hilarious effect.
- Linda Pellegrino: Danny’s mother is the pillar of the family, offering a firm guiding hand and loving warmth.
- Gary Pellegrino: Danny’s father is the epitome of the 1980s dad, a funny—sometimes fumbling—foil to Linda’s nurturing and steady energy.
- Bryan Pellegrino: Bryan is more than a brother to Danny—he’s a partner-in-crime, roommate, and friend.
- Matt: Danny’s boyfriend is the yin to his yang, a reserved complement to Danny’s effusiveness.
At this point, I had no clue what exactly they were referring to regarding this alleged Cousin Marc, but I did sense something off about the coded language these two were speaking right in front of me, and it felt very uncomfortable. What did Anna mean when she said her cousin Marc was just like me? Was cousin Marc Italian? Was he tall like I was?
- Suburban Ohio: Danny’s child- and young adult-hood is full of adventures at adolescent sleepovers, football games, and college.
- Florida/Disney World: A family vacation gone wrong in so many ways becomes fodder for some of the funniest chapters in the memoir.
- Bryan and Danny’s condo: After moving out of his college dorm, Danny lives with Bryan and hilarity ensues.
- West Hollywood: In search of fame and fortune, Danny moves from Ohio to the cosmopolitan West Coast enclave of the entertainment industry.
For those of you keeping score at home, my childhood vacation consisted of a temper tantrum from my father after he bought a car that didn’t fit in the garage, a child driving us to Florida, me getting thrown from a moving vehicle by my brothers, AND me getting “misplaced” at a theme park. Not a great trip for Danny.
- Pellegrino family goes on vacation: Danny recalls moments from the sitcom-level doomed vacation to Florida.
- Danny moves to California: Pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, Danny moves to California and becomes more comfortable expressing his uniqueness.
- Danny get engaged: Somewhat surprisingly, Danny finds himself eager to propose to his partner—but also comically over-thinks the situation.
Matt soothes his nerves with half a Xanax, which he takes on the way to the airport. Flying with him is a nightmare because I’m forced to Weekend at Bernies his lifeless body through security and onto the plane.
- Danny vs. himself: Danny struggles with identifying as gay in a traditional Midwestern community during a time when many were closeted.
- Danny vs. society: Danny often finds his quirky and anxious expressions at odds with those of “regular” people.
Those years when you’re figuring it all out can be mental torture, but if you can get through them, you can have your moment in the rain, when all that self-loathing and confusion washes away, and you realize that life doesn’t stop when you come out.
1 big idea
- Be yourself—everyone else is taken.
A reader’s thoughts on How Do I Un-remember This?
My rating: 3/5
I am an occasional listener of Danny Pellegrino’s Everything Iconic podcast. His comedic styling and folksy delivery never cease to elicit a chuckle or two, so I had high hopes for his memoir. On the comedy side, it did not disappoint.
Reading this book was a lot of fun. There were some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments in almost every chapter, such as when Danny is left behind on an ill-fated family vacation, or he accidentally launches a tooth across a dry cleaners’ shop during COVID, or he brings an urn to Kohl’s for return … the list goes on.
Jenny and I eventually headed off to our ASL final. She had prepared One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss, and I had memorized the power ballad about making love after making amends with a scorned partner.
The other adults looked bewildered when the power ballad kicked into high gear. I began to sign alongside the big-haired crooner, trepidatious at first. One of the parents covered the eyes of her child, while another shook their head in disgust as I signed about lovers. By the second chorus, I was in the zone. For the most part, the children just looked grossed out and certainly didn’t seem to enjoy it in the slightest.
For me, the book fell a little flat at the conclusion of each chapter/story. In an attempt to give every experience deeper meaning, Pellegrino ends up veering into trite and prosaic platitude territory. After nearly every chapter’s smooth takeoff and humorous narrative flight, the conclusion lands with a dull thud. This is unfortunate considering the vibrancy and wit of storytelling elsewhere throughout the book.Excerpts from How Do I Un-Remember This?: Unfortunately True Stories.