Posts Tagged ‘Book review’

Book Review: The Average American Male

Monday, July 5th, 2010
The Average American Male

What do us men really think about women, relationships and sex? If you’re a woman reading The Average American Male, you might afterwards decide to take thee to a nunnery and vow never to set sight on the male form again. True, Chad Kultgen’s debut novel from 2007 doesn’t paint man with the brightest of colours but, for me, his book is one of the most addictive, outlandish and hilarious reads to cross my path.

The unnamed narrator of The Average American Male is in his late-twenties, is in a relationship with a girl he no longer likes, and spends almost every spare minute thinking about sex and getting friendly with himself. He also plays a lot of video games and hangs out with his friends at bars and parties.

This might not sound like much of a premise, but Kultgen has created a work that will resonate with men worldwide.

His observations about relationships are at times both accurate and very funny. On one occasion, he’s  driving his girlfriend to the airport. She’s doing his head in with incessant chatter about trivial matters.

“She keeps talking about things as I stare down the road trying to imagine what the couple in the car in front of us is talking about. I can see the silhouette of the woman in the passenger seat. She’s kind of flailing her arms around and every once in a while pointing at the guy driving, who’s completely motionless, staring straight ahead and probably looking at the car in front of him wondering what the woman in that car’s passenger seat is saying to the guy driving.”

Some people will read The Average American Male and not “get it”. They will say that the main character is a man of no values with few redeemable qualities, that the book’s other main characters aren’t properly fleshed out, and that the novel presents a one-dimensional and pitiful view of men who see women as mere sex objects.

But these people are only partly correct. Although a novel, The Average American Male is saturated with the sort of frank honesty that should be applauded. Kultgen has produced the sort of book that few people would have the balls (no pun intended) to write. He has written on paper—albeit in a somewhat exaggerated and tongue in cheek fashion—exactly what men often think but don’t say. He also succeeds, from a man’s perspective, in delivering an ending that speaks volumes about relationships and how they evolve—or dissolve—after time.

Sexually explicit (and by no means intended for a young audience), extremely funny and vile, this is a book that will mainly appeal to young men who have “loved” and lost and “loved” again. If you’ve read the factual  I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, note that this has a similar style except that it is a novel, and is infinitely more funny, intelligent and addictive. Highly recommended.

Purchase my own book—the hilarious comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with FREE worldwide postage and packaging)

Book Review: One Red Paperclip

Monday, November 16th, 2009

One Red Paperclip has a fantastic premise. It follows the journey of a Canadian, Kyle MacDonald, who barters his way from a single red paperclip to a house in the space of just one year. The book charts Kyle’s entire journey—from placing the initial advert online and making his first trade, to reaching his ultimate goal by attaining a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.

Kyle sets out to trade each item for something bigger or better, but his initial success is only made possible by the generosity of those with whom he arranges to make a trade. One of the early trades, for example, sees Kyle swap a pretty worthless doorknob for a fully functional portable stove, and this sets him up nicely for the next swap. And so it continues.

Whilst the concept is undoubtedly ingenious, the book falls down in a few key areas. The dialogue is often flat and perhaps stays too true to the actual conversations that took place along the way. More riling is MacDonald’s attempts at humour. He constantly falls back on the same lame jokes, such as when describing what people are doing or thinking:

“I wondered if my parents would mind a big white cube van on blocks parked in the driveway. Probably not. But then again, I had no idea. I wasn’t my parents.”

Furthermore, MacDonald manages to irritate the reader with his words of wisdom that conclude each chapter. It’s patronising and hard to take serious from a guy who brings his parents with him on just about every trade and lets his mammy cut his hair. I’m all for close family relations, but parts of the book read like a script from The Brady Bunch.

Despite its glaring flaws, One Red Paperclip’s premise is strong enough to keep you turning the pages until the end. It’s an accessible, easy read that is testament to the power of the internet in helping one man realise his dream.

Book Review: Hitman

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky’s critically acclaimed movie starring Mickey Rourke, brought the darker side of the “sport” to the mainstream in late 2008. A riveting drama from start to finish, The Wrestler portrayed the downward spiral of a wrestler who had been a huge star in the eighties but was now eking out a living by wrestling for small independent promotions in New Jersey. Anyone who has seen Barry W. Blaustein’s seminal 1999 documentary, Beyond the Mat, and particularly the scenes featuring Jake “The Snake” Roberts, will know that the movie isn’t a million miles off in its portrayal of a down and out wrestler who finds it difficult to exist outside the false world he is a part of.

In terms of literature on the subject, Mick Foley’s 1999 New York Times chart-topping autobiography, Have a Nice Day, provided a ground-breaking behind the scenes look at the sport and it paved the way for the many wrestling biographies that have been released in the past decade. I’ve read a great number of them from wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, and WCW executive producer Eric Bischoff . I’ve also read all three of Foley’s autobiographies, of which the first,  Have a Nice Day, is the benchmark in the genre; until now that is.

Bret Hart’s recently released and long-awaited autobiography, Hitman, is undoubtedly the best book ever written about wrestling. For those of you unfamiliar with professional wrestling, Bret Hart was one of its biggest stars in the nineties, capturing five WWF (now WWE) world titles amongst others. His career spanned almost a quarter of a century, he became one of Canada’s most famous sons and he toured the world doing what he was always destined to do.

Unlike Foley,  Bret was born into wrestling. His father, Stu, was a famous promoter who ran Stampede Wrestling in Canada and trained a number of famous wrestling stars. One of 12 children, Bret, like most of his siblings, quickly found himself entwined in the business.

Although Bret reached the top of his profession and enjoyed fame and riches beyond his dreams, he endured some tragic events during that time, most notably the death of his brother, Owen, in an accident at a WWF pay-per-view.

In fact, Hart’s book is tinged with sadness as, chapter by chapter, more and more of the book’s characters fall victim to the grim reaper – thanks, in many cases, to the over-whelming effect of the lifestyles they led in a bid for glory in the ring.

Hart’s book is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the world of professional wrestling, told with an honesty and frankness that earns my respect.

If you like wrestling, then this book is a must-read. If you watched The Wrestler and are curious about what life as a wrestler is really like, then again you must read this book. At 592 pages, it’s a long book but I would gladly have read another 592 pages. Some events are glossed over (the controversial death of Chris Benoit only gets a mention) and, like most autobiographies, it really only gets going when Bret hits the big time, but Hitman is one of the must-read autobiographies of 2009. An instant classic!

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