Creating his own journey in life and sharing it with readers allows everyone to take on the jobs, hear the stories, the jokes and meet the unusual cast of characters that fill this book with so much humor and hilarity. The author is now done with his stint as a stand-up comedian at least for now and he is about to focus on another phase of his life: Catering! From Brooklyn, to the comedy clubs to a Tibetan Monastery, you got it, to learn the art of meditation, the author takes on a roller coaster ride that might never come to a stop. Getting out of the comedy club and returning to the Omega Institute where he found he could learn more about his spiritual needs, deal with the menu of activities and learn how to seek and find his inner self. But, that’s just the beginning.
The author takes us through many different walks of his life from the Omega Institute, to catering in different places, plus relationships that were toxic yet thinking he found the right one in his life. Fluctuating from living with his parents, to dating Linda who seemed not to put together in the mind and yet living with her at different intervals, the author has yet to find his niche and yet hopes to regain a spot in comedy.
At different times he reflects on his life, realizing that he must move ahead, only he can save himself from failure and yet he falls into the same pitfalls and where he winds up is exactly where he started in catering. But why?
Hoping to change the course of his life he meets many people, explores going to school for economics and learning about the economy and even reading up on it. He decides to become for a short time, very short a Forest Ranger and then going back to catering and realizing that some lose their sanity while others can’t cope with life. Drugs, alcohol, women and then dealing again with his parents seems to be his life as many that he meets are addicted to something or someone. Some of his dates, like one he falls for says if you are my lover, I must kill you how wild and dangerous is that. Throughout the book his humor comes through but so does his frustration within himself to try and rise and he does but only for short stints. In the back of his mind is his love for performing and as we read more, he creates four characters that he feels he can use in his shows. Filled with sarcasm, humor, traveling to New Mexico, Ecuador and places he would never set foot in normally, Joe seems to want to escape life and hopefully find somewhere to belong and fit in.
One scene that is priceless is in the Omega Bookstore where he spends time reading, sleeping and reflecting on his situation. It’s a place where he can spend time, not have to worry about meals or money plus hopefully get himself out of the blue funk he is always in. Going to the retreats at the Monastery, and hearing the words and advice of the Rinpoche, the chants and the requirements to succeed and hopefully have a better life, works for the time he is there but when he leaves he does mediate but the rest falls apart. Imagine having to stay silent for ten days straight: No reading, talking or anything to distract you from focusing on yourself, your breathing and hopefully coming to terms with where he wants to be when he leaves. But many different trips to both the retreats were just simple fixes for a short time but in the long run he still needs more help to decide his direction. From age 30 to 43 where the novel ends, we realize that he still has a long way to go, has to decide on his destination and he might have to refocus and choose a direction that is not out of the country but within his realm of true reality and hope.
Nobody gets out of catering alive! Would you become a catering LIFER? As the author relates in chapter 26 what happens to the captain in charge by the way table 34 is waiting for you!
This book is quite telling as the author struggles with his place in the world, his identity and where he feels he will eventually wind up. Finally getting a backer for his show and then meeting Vanessa who hoped that she would finally get a commitment from her boyfriend but when he becomes a hero for capturing the Central Park Strangler her life changes, her happiness disappears as Hector decides she would not fit into his life and the direction or path he is about to take. This is a book about challenges, disappointments, hopes, survival, trust, betrayals and the struggle to decide at an older age where life will take Joe Montaperto and where will he finally find himself.
Some endings are beginnings and the author lead us to believe that he has more places to visit but the impact of September 11 is described and felt, the death of Princess Diana and many other events that impacted his life and others. Where will he land? Well I guess when he pens the next part of his life and travels, we will find out.
So, take the journey. Cry, laugh, sulk and rise to each occasion as the author leads us to understand why NOBODY GETS OUT OF CATERING ALIVE.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews