This week’s Sex Blog Roundup at Fleshbot draws a deep breath before plunging in with those who take risks.
Those of you who enjoy stalking me will find Jocasta has some fun dressing me up before showing me what’s under her dress.
Bridget offers a helping hand to my sickly self by picking up my daughter at school. There, for the first time, she encounters . . . my ex wife!
Speaking of fun, I’m having loads of it this week. The kids are on break from school. It’s too cold to go out unless absolutely necessary, so we huddle close at home, warmed by the constantly buzzing Xbox. It’s tough for me to get things done when the kids are home—I swear to God, it’s like they require feeding every five hours or so—but I am at my computer as often as I can be. A large family made me and I made a large family, so I’m good at tuning out noise when concentrating.
Yesterday, though, I was distracted by Lillie and Collie giggling. I listened and heard Lillie shout, “That’s the beauty of alcohol! If you can’t remember it, it didn’t happen!”
“Hmmm,” I thought. “That’s not appropriate.” I went to investigate.
Lillie was bouncing on my bed reading Tucker Max to her brother.
“Lillie, Lillie, Lillie,” I clucked, taking away the book. “Now, this is not something for you to read.”
“You’re reading a book about beer!” she giggled. “And alcohol!”
“I know, it’s so bad!” I agreed.
“So why are you reading it, Dad?” Collie asked.
I put the book on a high shelf. “I had heard it was funny.”
“It’s funny if it’s about beer,” Lillie laughed. “Beer is funny. Beer!”
“There are those who would agree,” I nodded. “For some people, that’s all it takes.”
Near as I can tell, Tucker Max is one of those people. I’m currently reading popular recent memoirs, and so my friend Janie suggested I take a look at I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. It’s the memoir of a self-described asshole who drinks with his buddies, picks up women for casual sex and tells all in a blog. Sounds right up my alley, I thought.
I liked that the book is popular. So popular, in fact, that I bought it not at a bookstore, but at Urban Outfitters. It was stacked near clothing and furniture, all part of the décor of the well-outfitted urban dweller.
My memoir reading list also includes Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, which I bought in an airport. I asked the cashier where to find the book, which I misremembered as titled “Eat, Pray, Live.”
“Love,” she corrected, taking the book from a large pile behind the counter.
“Oh, thanks,” I smiled. “I guess you sell a lot of these, huh?”
“Tons,” she said. “I don’t usually care what Oprah says, but she’s right about this one.” A woman standing to my side nodded vigorously.
“Oh, you’ve read it, too?” I asked.
“It changed my life,” she smiled.
These were shining endorsements. I plunked down fifteen dollars and started the book on the plane. I could quickly see why the book resonated with so many readers, especially Oprah’s viewers. Gilbert’s memoir opens with her divorce in New York State—hey, I’ve had one of those!—and her plucky decision to spend the next year in pursuit of happiness. Gosh, I did that too! However, my identification with her could end there, as she makes the decision to go about it as a celibate. (Well, to finish the comparisons, we’re both skinny blondes.)
Gilbert travels to Italy in pursuit of pleasure through food, to India in pursuit of spiritual bliss, and to Indonesia where she hopes to unify body and spirit. Now, these are not the kinds of things your real best girlfriend does, but throughout, Gilbert writes in such an endearing, ingratiating tone that you can’t help but think, over and again, “You go girl! That’s just what I would do, too!”
With that memoir still warming my girlish heart, I picked up Tucker Max. I was truly stoked to be spending time with a dude who promises, on the book jacket, that he is a real jerk whose only value is his willingness to tell us about his amazing acts of debauchery on his blog and now, his book. We’re promised raucous drinking, piss-poor behavior and misogynous sex.
Now, this may not sound like someone you’d want to have around, but if he’s as bad as he promises, this could be a lot of fun to read about.
It’s not. It’s boring.
Max tells us, over and again, that he is a funny writer with funny stories to tell. “Hilarity ensues” is his favored cliché, usually preceding a story that never gets very funny. The problem may be that he is too impressed with his outlandishness to get the joke across.
For example, in one outing, he brags to his friends that he could fuck a girl met through his blog. (Apparently, people do such things.) His friends dare him to do so, and not one to pass on a dare, Max meets up with a woman who likes his blog. The woman is pleasant, we’re told, but there’s a problem—she’s fat. Undaunted, Max has sex with her. Afterwards, he’s mean to her, throwing her clothes out a window and telling her to go find them.
Now, this is cruel, no question. Max convinces us that he’s an asshole. But the second condition—that he’s funny—doesn’t come to fruition. Because the joke is simply this: he fucked a fat girl and he was mean to her. Get it?
I don’t require comedy writers to be kind or moral, and I think good comedy can be written about anything. But there are no laughs in the posture that cruelty and boorishness are so funny in and of themselves that a writer needn’t be concerned with timing, language or any other elements of comedic storytelling. If Max wants us to hate him, I’m game. But if he wants us to laugh along, he needs to be funnier. Otherwise, he’s just another drunk asshole.
Maybe he could use a better editor. The book reads like he hit “print” on his blog. Characters are reintroduced in pretty much the same words each time, and there’s poor flow from tale to tale.
Still, as Lillie knows, some people will just find beer funny. Apparently a lot of people—Max’s book, like Gilbert’s, is a best seller. We can only imagine that like Gilbert, Max is changing lives.
Here’s a sidebar on fate. As I paid for Max’s book, Madeline looked over and asked, “Are you seriously buying that?”
“Yeah,” I said, reaching for my wallet. “It’s popular, it’s a memoir, I’m reading it. Why?”
“No reason.” She looked casually at earrings. “I’m glad I didn’t fuck him.”
I was taken aback. “You were going to fuck Tucker Max? When was this?”
“Oh, a while ago. I saw that he fucks women he meets through his blog, so I thought, hey, why not?”
“Well,” I asked. “Why didn’t you?”
“Because I found your blog, silly,” she laughed.