Pel Dalton spends his time by day as a supervisor of IT staff at a library, er, make that Learning Center, at a large University in England. By night he squabbles incessantly with this German girlfriend, Ursula, and tries to raise the couple’s 2 young boys. Pel does just enough to get by and believes half-assing any task is about a quarter ass too much. He’s mostly been bluffing his way through his job so when Pel’s boss suddenly vanishes and Pel steps in to his roll he is unprepared. When the Vice Chancelor taps Pel for even more responsibility he is woefully unprepared. And when his new role requires him to be a bagman for a Hong Kong Triad he finds his carefully constructed existence largely filled with slacker-dom being torn asunder. To make matters worse, while his work life is erupting in to chaos, Ursula is house hunting.
The comedy in Things My Girlfriend and I Argue About is the slice-of-life segments portraying Pel and Ursula in their natural environment, which is a house in a seedy part of town where break ins are a routine part of life. The couple argues constantly, usually about Pel’s extreme laziness and Ursula’s rigid German viewpoints. The back and forth banter, while usually pointed, is never violent and usually is perfectly understandable taking the personalities in to account.
The work place caper aspects are also very funny. As Pel gets more involved in his new role as manager he quickly is in way too deep to easily get himself back out. The University has been up to some very shady dealings and if Pel isn’t careful when the house of cards crashes down it’s going to be on his head.
Things My Girlfriend and I Argue About is highly recommended for fans of David Sedaris as well as early Carl Hiaasen. It has that slightly skewed reality that both are known for, colorful characters, and insightful observations about both work and home. It is also laugh-out-loud-wiping-tears-from-your-eyes funny. One of the funniest books I’ve read in years.