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The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie--A Wildly Exaggerated Memoir

by Chris Miller

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-316-05701-0
Publisher: Little, Brown

The Dartmouth frat escapades of the National Lampoon writer whose experiences inspired the film Animal House.

The Alpha Delta Phi house at Dartmouth was called “Animal House” for a number of reasons, the most famous of which involved some members who were haplessly chasing a chicken around the yard (eager to kill it for dinner), only to be brought up short when an upperclassman (known as “The Man”) plugged the chicken with a .45 slug from his upstairs room. Unfortunately for readers of Miller's biography about his sophomore Dartmouth year in 1960 at the AD house, nothing quite that eventful happens—it's action-packed but mostly of the binge-drinking, puking, pissing and trying-to-get-laid variety. Miller was a smart-ass gentile from the Long Island suburbs with a yen for girls, obscure rock 45s and Yiddish slang who found himself at home with the ADs, who treasured drinking and the bestowing of nicknames (Miller's is “Pinto”). The author writes that what “cartoon characters and AD brothers had in common was their exuberance,” a truism he proves time and again throughout these raucous, bleary pages where schoolwork is but a vague concern and the unceasing bacchanal is everything. Written in a juvenile, slangy rush, Miller's book has energy to spare. The stories are related mostly in streams of obscene dialogue and are focused on activities centered either immediately above or below the waist. There's a time limit on such behavior, of course, given the ADs' “amused cynicism about all human activity [and] Dadaistic displays of sociopathic behavior in public spaces,” and the attraction begins to pall at about the halfway point, not long after Miller/Pinto starts referring to himself in the third person. For Animal House completists, be assured, one can find here most of the film's raw elements, from the road trip, the band playing “Shout!” and even the Dean's decision to put the house on an unprecedented “triple warning.”

A boozy holler of a book, with a great soundtrack.